(3rd LD) Baseball club coach arrested for beating fellow coach at bar

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(ATTN: CHANGE title; ADD comments to paragraphs 8-13, 20-22)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) — A coach of South Korean baseball club NC Dinos has been taken into custody for assaulting his fellow coach at a bar in the early hours of Tuesday, police said.

Police in Daegu, a city the Dinos are visiting for a Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) regular season series, said on Tuesday the offending coach was taken into custody after he apparently beat the other coach in a bar in Daegu. The incident happened around 3:40 a.m. Tuesday, police added.

Police initially concealed the identities of the coaches, but the Dinos revealed the names in their public apology released on Tuesday afternoon. They said field coach Han Kyu-sik is the one facing assault charges, and Yong Duk-han, who works with seekers, was the apparent victim.

The Dinos immediately terminated Han’s contract and released him. Yong was relieved of his duties and removed from the active roster.

“We will take the necessary tough action after the investigation is complete, and we will be transparent about our next steps,” the Dinos said in their statement. “We would like to apologize to baseball fans for our lack of professionalism on and off the field.”

Police said Yong received treatment for his injuries at a local hospital and was discharged on Tuesday morning.

The Dinos are in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to take on the Samsung Lions for three games starting Tuesday.

Ahead of Tuesday’s game, Dinos manager Lee Dong-wook and general manager Lim Sun-nam both apologized for the incident.

“There’s no excuse for something like this,” Lee said. “I’m sure a lot of our fans are disappointed with us. As the manager of this team, I would like to apologize.”

Lim, the general manager, said the team would not immediately fill the vacancies vacated by Han and Yong, and some remaining coaches would serve in dual roles.

Lim said the Dinos would inflict their own punishment if necessary, in addition to whatever the KBO decides to do against Han and possibly Yong.

“Depending on the findings of the investigation, we might sanction more people (apart from the two coaches),” Lim added. “We take this situation seriously. Something like this should never happen.”

When asked how the team can contain alcohol-related problems, Lim said: “It’s not realistic to impose a curfew on adults. But we have to find ways to manage a excessive alcohol consumption which can have a negative effect on performance on the pitch.”

The Dinos said the incident was reported to KBO headquarters in Seoul and they are trying to verify more facts.

The KBO will initiate disciplinary proceedings once the Dinos file an official report on the matter.

The Dinos are mired in last place this season at 8-18. They have dropped their last two games.

The incident is the latest black eye for the Dinos, a team with a recent history of off-field issues ranging from match-fixing and drunk driving to illegal drinking parties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last summer, the Dinos saw four of their regulars suspended by the KBO for violating COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

These and other off-field fouls have been blamed for keeping fans away from ballparks as KBO teams struggle to fill their seats despite no restrictions on crowds.

Three of the suspended NC players — infielder Park Min-woo and outfielders Lee Myung-ki and Kwon Hui-dong — are eligible to return to the roster on Wednesday. They have served their 72-game suspensions imposed by the KBO and an additional 25-game ban from the Dinos.

Lim, the general, admitted the timing of their return was not ideal, coming in the wake of the coaching incident.

“We didn’t intend for things to turn out this way,” Lim said. “I think we’ll think about (putting the three on the active roster) until the last minute tomorrow. They obviously did something wrong but they served their penalties.”

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