“Is Lotte the winner of this season’s event?” People say that 2024 is the third championship for the Lotte Giants in professional baseball. It started as a combined victory for the LG Twins last year. LG topped the KBO league for the third time in 29 years. On the other hand, Lotte failed to grab the title for the 31st year, the longest period in the league’s history. This is why fans have high expectations that Lotte may win this year’s trophy.월카지노
This is a well-founded expectation. The biggest reason for this is that Kim Tae-hyung, former Doosan Bears coach, is taking the helm. There is one more factor. Three “high-end” players like Cheon Gun-manma will return this season. The main characters are Lee Min-seok, Park Jin-hyung (pitchers above) and Na Seung-yeop (fielders). I met them and heard their determination and goals.
▮Lee Min-seok prepares to return in May
Up until his ninth consecutive win early last season, the team had a rough patch with zero earned run average. However, the team only posted a record of 4.65 (eighth place). The bottom line was laid bare by the team’s overload. Amid this situation, Lee’s absence was especially significant. Lee, who was drafted by the Lotte Giants in the first round of the 2022 rookie draft, suffered an elbow injury in the opening game of last season. According to medical conditions, Lee was out for the season.
“I watched all Lotte games on TV. I was on the mound a few months ago, and I felt like I was back to my amateur days when I watched the game every day,” Lee said.
Lee, who completed surgery to remove bone fragments in his right elbow in April last year, started playing catch at Sajik Stadium this month. He will join the spring camp in Guam in February and start pitching in the bullpen session. His goal is to return to the first division in May. “I focused on my training on weight and one-on-one crossfit. Rather than trying something new, I kept exercising, which I had been doing before. As I was living in Sangdong Stadium, which is surrounded by mountains, I think I had no fun living there,” Lee said.
He had his own kind of events during his boring life. It was his first meeting with Shim Jae-min wearing a Lotte uniform during the 2023 season. At that time, Shim visited Sangdong Stadium to greet Lee Min-seok for the first time since joining the club. Lee Min-seok (21) and Shim Jae-min (30) are nine years apart from each other. “When I was in high school, Shim Jae-min was famous for being good at baseball. I was very excited to meet such a senior high school student,” Lee said. “I was a graduate of Gaeseong High School, and I was surprised when he said he found me as soon as I arrived here.” “Since then, I have had a lot of conversations about the baseball team at Gaeseong High School.”
During his rehabilitation period, Lee learned that Shohei Ohtani, a two-time slugger, is moving to the Los Angeles Dodgers for an astronomical amount of money. “I imagined for a moment, thinking, ‘Can I become like that someday?'” Lee said. “I even filled in the blanks by making a Mandalat schedule like Ohtani when I was in high school.” “I was grateful for your support throughout my rehabilitation. I have more expectations than fear as the new season is coming soon.”
▮”Uncalling” Park Jinhyung
Park Jin-hyeong returned to Korea after completing his mandatory social service in November last year. Wearing the 13th overall pick in the second round of the 2013 rookie draft, Park recorded 18 wins, 14 losses, seven saves, 36 holds and an earned run average of 5.44 in 215 games during seven seasons. Notably, in the 2017 season when Lotte last advanced to the fall baseball league, he played all-weather, including starting and winning teams.
“I’m currently working out at Sangdong Stadium in Gimhae and doing both physical training and manual therapy,” Park Jin-hyung said. “I’m grateful to the fans who waited a long time for me to release my call. As much as you cheered for me, I’ll protect the Lotte mound with better performance. First of all, my goal is to join the winning team.”
Park Jin-hyung, who returned to Lotte, confessed that he was unfamiliar with the younger team. “I was embarrassed because many of the Lotte players were so young and there were so many players I didn’t know,” Park said. “Since everyone is tall, I felt that I was relatively small,” he said. “I will show you that small peppers are spicy.” “Since Seung-min (former) is the only member of the team who is still with Lotte, we have a special relationship,” Park said. “I am four years younger than him, but we are close friends. When I was working as a social service worker, I didn’t keep in touch so often that I used to joke that my brother was dead when I returned.”
Park reunited with pitching coach Joo Hyung-kwang and became a priest. “Left-hander Legend” Joo Hyung-kwang, who returned to Lotte last year, served as a coach in 2016 and helped Park make his debut. The current coach is planning Park Jin-hyung as a candidate for this season’s must-win group. “I think I’m lucky to meet Coach Joo again. I feel comfortable seeing him often since I was a rookie. Thanks to him, I think I will be able to play better in my comeback season.”
Na Seung-yeop, a “genius hitter” with experience in international competitions in ▮
Na Seung-yeop, who debuted as a pro in 2021 after being nominated by Lotte, is called a “genius hitter.” Na has excellent batting ability as he announced his challenge to the Major League after graduating from high school. Lotte succeeded in holding Na Seung-yeop, who aimed for the U.S. stage at the time, through persistent persuasion.
Na Seung-yeop said, “Many people expected it even before my professional debut, but I haven’t shown you anything yet,” adding, “Since I’ve been in the military, I’m going to prove it one by one from now on.”
Na Seung-yeop, who was discharged from the Armed Forces Sports Unit (Sangmu) in November last year, immediately participated in the Korean national team of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC).