Trey Hillman, American manager for the South Korean baseball club SK Wyverns, said Sunday he will relish the opportunity to play for the championship in the Korean Series.
The Wyverns will face the Doosan Bears in the best-of-seven Korean Series starting later Sunday. Hillman is the first foreign skipper in Korea Baseball Organization history to manage in the Korean Series.
He won the Japanese league title with Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2006 and has previously managed the Kansas City Royals.
"I've had a unique career in many places. I don't take any of the experiences for granted," Hillman said in his pre-game media session at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. "I am very honored to be here representing what I think is a great organization and a great group of guys."
The Wyverns finished in second place in the regular season behind the Bears and defeated the Nexen Heroes in five games in the previous playoff series to get to this point. The Bears had a bye to the Korean Series.
For Hillman's counterpart, Kim Tae-hyung, it's an opportunity to avenge the Bears' loss to the Wyverns in the 2008 Korean Series, the last time these two clubs met with the championship on the line.
Kim was a coach on the Bears' staff at the time. The Bears won the first game but then lost the next four in a row.
"The rematch wasn't really on my mind, but now that so many people have brought it up, I've started to think about it a little," Kim said. "But it's a far different situation now. Most of our players have been in three Korean Series before this year (in 2015, 2016 and 2017), and this is a more experienced team than what we had back then."
The Bears haven't played since their final regular season game on Oct. 14. But Kim said he wasn't concerned about the players'
sharpness because they managed to get in some game action in Japan during the winter instructional league there.
"I guess there will be at least some effect (from the extended break)," Kim said. "But our guys are ready to go. I've experienced this as a player and I don't think there was any serious problem." (Yonhap)