“I felt like I wasn’t going to throw a fastball”.
Kia Tigers catcher Han Jun-soo, 24, hit his first career home run. It was also a priceless comeback hit.
Han was the starting catcher against the Samsung Lions at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on Sept. 9 and delivered the decisive hit in the eighth inning. With the score tied 1-1, he stepped to the plate with runners on second and third and lined a fastball from left-hander Lee Sang-min into right-center field.
It was a hit that tied the game at 2-1. Lee Chang-jin followed with an RBI single to left center. In the top of the ninth, Jung Hae-young closed out the game to preserve the win. It was his first game-winning hit in the first team since joining the program in 2018.
Han Jun-soo said, “I was very disappointed to strike out in the first three at-bats. The opposing left-hander came out and I knew I wasn’t going to compete with a fastball. I went in thinking about a changeup, and I’m glad it turned into a hit. I just tried to focus as much as I could with runners on base. I’ve never hit a grand slam before,” he said.
He also finished the game as a catcher. He pitched 5⅔ innings, striking out 10 and allowing one run. He was followed by Kim Dae-yoo, Lim Ki-young, Jeon Sang-hyun, and Jung Hae-young to secure the win.
Han Jun-soo said, “I was loyal and breathing easily. We decided to be aggressive before the game and not avoid it. We gave up one point, but I think we did a good job. In the game against Kang Min-ho, I threw a fastball because I didn’t think the body course was coming out of the bat, but he didn’t like it, so I changed it right away. I pitched well,” he laughed.
For the first time this year, he has been in the first team for a long time. It’s been 107 days since he was called up on June 25. As I play more games, I’m gaining experience and expanding my horizons. After playing in just seven games in 2019, he has played in 44 games this year and is on pace for a career-high 85 at-bats with two doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs.캡틴토토
“I can read things a little bit as I go out there. I can read the pitches. You have to make quick catches and that’s been going well. I analyze before the game, but it can be different during the game. You have to catch it quickly to make the game easier,” he explained.
He is gaining experience as a catcher who can improvise. He feels like a true second catcher now. “My goal is to win all the remaining games,” Han Jun-soo concluded, expressing his desire for an upset fifth place finish.