Veteran skipper Ryu Joong-il retained as nat’l baseball team manager

Ryu Joong-il, who guided South Korea to the gold medal in the Asian Games baseball tournament last fall, has been retained as manager of the national team. The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), which governs professional baseball in the country, announced Friday Ryu will continue to manage South Korea. He will first manage the national team in preseason exhibition games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres next month in Seoul, prior to a season-opening series between the two Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs in the South Korean capital. Ryu will then lead South Korea at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 in November. The next major international competition after that will be the 2026 World Baseball Classic. At the Hangzhou Asian Games last year, Ryu led a team mostly made up of under-24 players to South Korea's fourth consecutive baseball gold. South Korea then finished second to Japan at the U-24 Asia Professional Baseball Championship. In announcing Ryu's appoint ment, the KBO said it recognized his role in ensuring a smooth generational shift. "Based on his success in this area, he has a deep understanding of players who will form the nucleus of the team at the 2024 Premier12 and the 2026 WBC," the KBO said. "We also wanted to ensure continuity at the top." Ryu, 60, won four straight Korean Series titles as manager of the Samsung Lions in the KBO from 2011 to 2014. Also on Friday, the KBO retained pitching coach Choi Yil-yeon and hitting coach Ryu Ji-hyun from the Hangzhou Asian Games. The KBO will finalize the rest of the coaching staff early next month. South Korea will play the Padres at 7 p.m. on March 17 and then the Dodgers at 7 p.m. the following day. Both games will be at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.