San Diego Padres arrive in Korea for historic MLB Seoul Series

Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres, center, signs autographs at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on March 15 after arriving from the United States to prepare for Major League Baseball's Seoul Series. Yonhap

The San Diego Padres arrived in Korea on Friday for an unprecedented series of major league games in the country, greeted by dozens of fans at the airport in the wee hours .The Padres’ Atlas 747-400 VIP airliner touched down at Incheon International Airport, just west of Seoul, around 1:30 a.m. Friday, after traveling across 16 time zones. They had played a spring training game in Arizona Wednesday afternoon (local time) before boarding their charter flight bound for Korea .The Padres will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in a two-game Seoul Series on Wednesday and Thursday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. These two games will be the first Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season games to be played in Korea. Dozens of fans, mostly from Korea and Japan, stayed out late to get a glimpse of San Diego players from their countries: infielder Kim Ha-seong and relief pitcher Go Woo-suk from Korea, and pitchers Yu Darvish and Yuki Matsui from Japan. The Padres’ other big-name stars, such as infielder Manny Machado and outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr., signed a few autographs on their way out of the airport. Several cameramen and photographers captured the scene as Padres players and staff filed out and boarded designated team buses to their Seoul hotel.

“It feels great. Now that we’ve arrived, it just hit me that we’re about to play here,” Kim told reporters. “I know fans will be expecting a lot from us, and we’ll try to play good games.”Go chimed in: “I am a bit tired, but it was a good flight. I feel pretty good.”The Padres are scheduled to hold a clinic for local children and U.S. military dependent children stationed in Korea on Saturday at Yongsan Children’s Park in Seoul. Then at 7 p.m. Sunday, they will face the Korean national team in the first of their two exhibition games at Gocheok. The second game will be against the defending Korean Series champions LG Twins at noon Monday. The Dodgers are scheduled to arrive in Korea Friday afternoon. They will play the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) at noon Sunday, and then the Korean national team at 7 p.m. Monday .Both regular season games will begin just after 7 p.m. The Padres will be the home team on Wednesday and the Dodgers will bat last on Thursday. Kim and Go, as the two homegrown stars now plying their trade in San Diego, will be the ones drawing attention from local fans in the coming days.

Kim won the 2023 National League Gold Glove at the utility position, becoming the first Asian infielder to win the prestigious defensive award. He is entering the final year of his four-year contract. Kim spent seven years with the Heroes before joining the Padres. From 2016 to 2020, Gocheok was Kim’s home stadium .Go signed with the Padres in January after seven seasons with the Twins. From 2019 to 2023, Go collected 139 saves, more than any other KBO closer. He entered his first major league spring training looking to fight for the Padres’ closer job, but has a 12.46 ERA after allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings over five outings. The Padres brought 31 players to Korea but their traveling roster must be trimmed to 26 by 11 a.m. Wednesday before the Seoul Series. The Dodgers are scheduled to have their first workout at Gocheok starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Padres beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. In between, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Padres skipper Mike Shildt will have press conferences, along with star players from both sides .Kim will first meet the media at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a trio of All-Stars, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Tatis Jr.T hen at 5:15 p.m., three former MVPs for the Dodgers 슬롯게이밍 will take questions from the media: Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Shohei Ohtani

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