(Yonhap Interview) After tough loss in ’19, Padres coach Leiper hopes for better memories in Seoul in ’24

SEOUL, The San Diego Padres are at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul for the first time this week for exhibitions and Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season openers against the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, their third base coach, Tim Leiper, is no stranger to the stadium. In November 2019, Leiper was a coach for Canada during the opening round of the World Baseball Softball Classic Premier12. Gocheok hosted the round, which featured South Korea, Australia and Cuba. The tournament served as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic baseball tournament. And Canada missed out on a spot available for the Americas, when it lost to Australia 3-1 in the final group game and failed to advanced to the Super Round in Tokyo. Australia scored twice in the bottom eighth for the narrow win, leaving Leiper and his team devastated. In a conversation with Yonhap News Agency on Monday at Gocheok, Leiper admitted those painful memories flooded back to him when he first arrived at the dome for the Padres' first workout Saturday. "I do remember the feeling that I had when I left here, and when we lost to Australia and we didn't get a chance to go to Japan to play for the finals," Leiper said, before the Padres beat the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization 5-4 in their final exhibition game. "It was disappointing, but it's great when you get to come back to places and then get another chance of doing things. And I know we only have two games here (against the Dodgers), but I want to definitely make sure we turn those memories around." Leiper is entering his first season on the Padres staff. He has previously been a coach with the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants, among other MLB organizations, and with the Canadian national team for each of the five World Baseball Classics. The 57-year-old American said he was "really excited" about his new gig. "I did not in any way, shape or form think that I would be in this position to get one more shot at being a big league coach," he said. "And I could not be more thankful for t hat." Leiper is also the infield and base running instructor for the Padres, and works closely with their South Korean shortstop, Kim Ha-seong. Kim won the National League Gold Glove at the utility position last year, after splitting his time at second base, third base and shortstop. Kim, the first Asian infielder with a Gold Glove, will be the Padres' primary shortstop in 2024, with the gold patch on his glove as the winner of the prestigious award. Leiper said the sky is the limit for the 28-year-old. "I love his work ethic. I love his intelligence," Leiper said. "He's got a real voice in the infield, and those guys all mesh really well together. I think he can do anything he sets his mind to." Leiper, who is also blessed with two-time Gold Glover Manny Machado manning the hot corner, recounted a piece of advice from Perry Hill, a friend of his and the infield coach for the Seattle Mariners, on how to go about taking coaching jobs. "He always told me, 'Go take the very worst team you could ever coach, and that way, you'll always look good,'" Leiper said. "The first day I was out hitting ground balls, I'd look around the infield, and here's Manny with the Gold Glove and here's Kimmy with his gold patch. I'm like 'Boy, I didn't listen to Perry Hill very much.'" Source: Yonhap News Agency

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