Lotte Giants catcher Lee Jung-geun has been on an incredible hitting streak in August. His performance has been so impressive that the absence of starting catcher Yoo Kang-nam hasn’t even been noticed. Lotte hitting coach Park Heung-sik gives a thumbs-up to his progress. He has seen the benefits of consistently working on his assignments since the final camp last fall.
Lotte won two consecutive series last week against the Kiwoom Heroes and KIA Tigers. With 47 wins and 51 losses on the season, the seventh-ranked Lotte has closed the gap on the fifth-ranked Doosan Bears for a spot in the fall baseball playoffs to three games. It was a result that kept their postseason hopes alive.
One player who has played a big role in Lotte’s recent rebound is Lee Jung-geun. Since August, he has been on fire, batting .458 with 11 hits, one home run, four RBIs, and four walks. With Son Sung-bin backing him up, the offense and defense have filled the void left by starting catcher Yoo Kang-nam, who suffered an adductor muscle injury in late July.
Why has he recently reached his full hitting potential? Coach Park Heung-sik believes that his hitting mechanics have improved because he has been working on the tasks he was given since the final camp last year.
“When I came to the team last year, I heard that he had a great defense, but his batting was not working. So from the final camp, we worked together to improve his batting. Overall, my swing form wasn’t bad, but I changed the way I lifted my right heel in my warm-up and then hit the ground. Before that, my swing had no rhythm and I kept hitting malted balls, but now I can definitely feel the power in my bat. It’s something I’ve been working on with the Future Team,” he explained.
To fill the void left by Yoo Kang-nam’s injury, Jung was given a chance to play regularly. He seized the opportunity. There are even talks of him threatening to take over the starting position.
Coach Park said, “I feel like he has opened his eyes to producing line drives that are farther out. He’s not just getting lucky with his hits, but the quality of his at-bats has changed. When Yoo Kang-nam left the game, he felt more motivated. In the dugout, we jokingly said, ‘Gangnam can come back after more rest,'” he smiled.
Lotte’s bats were hot in August…now only the good drum remains.
It’s also encouraging to see veteran hitters like Ahn Chi-hong, Jeon Jun-woo, Jeong Hoon, and Noh Jin-hyuk hitting well as of late. This gives Kim Min-seok and Yoon Dong-hee, who are at the end of their rope physically, time to breathe.
Coach Park said, “It’s encouraging to see our veteran hitters hitting better recently. Now, I feel that Kim Min-seok and Yoon Dong-hee are tired after working hard in the first half, so I’m going to give them a break when I can. Overall, the team’s batting pace is starting to find its groove.”안전놀이터
If there is one concern, it is foreign batsman Niko Gudrum. Goodrum, who joined the team as a late-season replacement, played in 21 games, batting .247 with 20 hits, 14 RBIs, a .333 on-base percentage, and a .321 slugging percentage.
Coach Park said, “For Goodrum, we can’t afford to wait for him to come up. He was a midseason replacement, so he’s been playing for about a month, and now he needs to show us what he can do. If you look at his swing rhythm at the plate, he doesn’t move too much, he just swings his arm. I feel like I’m standing still and then hitting, so I’m producing more pushed balls than hard hits. It’s not like I’m here to play defense, and the pitcher shouldn’t be able to skip the first batter and face Goodrum. It’s time for me to really show something this week.”