Saturday, 18th May 2024

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Lotte beat Doosan on its home turf to avenge the previous day’s loss.

The Lotte Giants, led by head coach Kim Tae-hyung, won 8-1 against the Doosan Bears in the 2024 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on the 6th, hitting 12 hits. Lotte, which suffered a disappointing one-point loss to Doosan the previous day, reduced its gap with seventh-ranked Doosan to one game (3-8 losses), with a clean victory that allowed Doosan to take the lead at all.

Lotte’s “eye-glasses ace” Park Se-woong, who had been sluggish with one loss and 7.56 in two games since the season opened, won his first win of the season with five hits, one walk, nine strikeouts and one run in seven innings, while Jeon Mir and Kim Won-joong finished the game with one inning each. In the batting lineup, Victor Reyes, who hit a timely two-run single in the third inning, became the main player of the final hit, and five players recorded multiple hits. And Junghoon Lee, who started as the fifth designated hitter on the day, swept three RBIs with two hits, igniting Lotte’s competition for the starting pitcher.

successful hitters after discarding catcher’s mask

There is no easy position in baseball, but a catcher who needs to pay attention to pitching lead, framing, blocking, checking runners, blocking stolen bases, and defensive position all requires the highest level of expertise among the nine positions. Of course, there are catchers who are good at both offense and defense like Yang Eui-ji (Doosan Mountain) and Kang Min-ho (Samsung Lions), but many players cannot adapt to the catcher’s position and change their positions to revive their batting talent. In fact, for a player’s future, sometimes a quick position change can be a good option.

Choi, a slugger and cleanup hitter at the Kia Tigers who boasts a career batting average of .311 375 home runs, 1549 RBIs and 1231 runs, was a catcher up until he joined the Samsung Lions in 2002. However, it was not easy to establish himself as a catcher at the Samsung Lions, where a senior player named Jin Gap-yong (KIA’s chief coach) held on, and Choi joined the police baseball team after being released from the team in four years. After turning to an outfielder at the recommendation of manager Kim Yong-chol, Choi conquered the Futures League and rejoined the team after being discharged from the military, playing an active role as the “fourth batter of the Samsung Dynasty.”

Park Byung-ho (kt Wiz), the winner of the most homeruns (six times) in the history of the KBO League, was also a promising catcher when he joined the pro league. Having made a name for himself by hitting four homeruns in a row when he was at Seongnam High School, Park changed into an infielder after playing in the first and second leagues after losing to Jo In-sung (remainer of Doosan, coach of Rehabilitation County) after joining the LG Twins in 2005. However, Park failed to explode his potential after joining the LG Twins and only grew into the league’s best slugger after being traded to the Nexen Heroes (currently Kiwoom).

Doosan’s fourth batter Kim Jae-hwan, who was named regular league MVP in 2018 along with the home run and RBI king, was also a big gun catcher who was talented in batting when he was at Incheon High School. However, after completing his military service in Sangmu, Doosan’s home turf became Yang Eui-ji’s, and Doosan transformed Kim Jae-hwan into an infielder to revive his batting talent. However, Kim Jae-hwan became the starting player in the first division was neither a catcher nor an infielder, but a left fielder who joined the team to fill the vacancy left by Kim Hyun-soo (LG) for entering the Major League in 2016.

Chae Eun-seong, the “captain” of the Hanwha Eagles who is tied for second place, half a game behind the leading Kia Tigers, also played catcher at his main position in high school. Chae was able to get an opportunity as a catcher at LG Twins, which suffered from a catcher’s crisis after serving in the military, but transformed into an outfielder after suffering from Steve Breath syndrome (a syndrome in which a baseball player suddenly suffers from severe control issues). However, Chae’s transformation into the outfield was a “goddy move,” and Chae is now the captain and the leading hitter in the Hanwha team.

Three-run game for the first time since moving to Lotte

Junghoon Lee, an outfielder who boasted strong shoulders during his high school years, was selected by KIA as the 94th overall pick in the second 10th round of the 2017 rookie draft after turning into a catcher in his third year of high school. (In high school baseball, infielders or outfielders with good shoulders are often turned into catchers in the second or third year of high school to increase the probability of a player’s professional nomination.) It was natural that Junghoon Lee, who turned into a catcher at a late age as a high school senior, also lacked experience and basic skills as a catcher.

Junghoon Lee, who has good talent in batting and is said to be the best among KIA catchers in terms of shoulder, had a hard time getting a chance as a catcher in the first division. Junghoon Lee has played only 14 games in the first division in the four years since joining the professional league, and even in 2021, when he played 41 games and posted a batting average of .248 with two homers and 14 RBIs, he only had four games to wear a catcher mask. Eventually, Junghoon Lee was released after the 2022 season, ending his six years at KIA.

Lotte, which had been collecting release players for each team in November 2022, recruited Lee Junghoon Lee, who had been recognized for his batting talent since his time at KIA, and Lee Junghoon Lee showed excellent performance by batting .296 with one homer, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 59 games last year. However, it was not easy for Junghoon Lee to survive as a catcher at the Lotte Giants, which also has promising Son Seong-bin in the presence of Yoo Kang-nam and Jung In-geun, and Junghoon Lee has been taking on new challenges as a left fielder and a first baseman, not a catcher since last year.

Junghoon Lee, who failed to make this year’s opening entry, was included in the first division entry instead of Ko Seung-min on Saturday. However, Junghoon Lee had his first hit of the season in the game on Saturday when he played as a designated hitter in Class 6, but was struck out three times. Despite showing disappointing batting performance in the game on Saturday, manager Kim Tae-hyung sent Junghoon Lee to the mound as a designated hitter in Class 5, and Junghoon Lee had two hits including a double to create a three-run game for the first time since moving to Lotte.

Though he played as a designated hitter on Tuesday and Thursday, it is not easy for the 38-year-old veteran to play in the left field full-time, so Junghoon Lee should take turns playing in the left field. Of course, maintaining a steady sense of hitting is a given in order for him to play as a starting member. Had Junghoon Lee given up his catcher early to concentrate on batting, his career would have been different. However, Junghoon Lee is still drawing keen attention from manager Kim Tae-hyung and Lotte fans. 먹튀검증

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