“Center line reinforcement completed, I will definitely go to the Korean series”

– Recruitment of free agents to released veterans
– Competition by position… The team is getting stronger
– Plans to actively appoint promising players this year
– “Nothing is impossible” Confident expression

“We have become one family.”

Professional baseball Lotte Giants head coach Larry Sutton (pictured) said sternly with a determined expression. It means that the club has become a ‘one team’ through the spring camp that lasted for about a month. It is also the confidence that a chemical bond between free agents (FA) recruited in large numbers from Stove League at the end of last year and existing members was achieved.

Last year, Lotte recruited Yoo Kang-nam (catcher), Noh Jin-hyeok (shortstop), and Han Hyun-hee (pitcher) as free agents. Yoo Kang-nam, who made his debut at LG in the 7th round in 2011, is a veteran among veterans with a batting average of 0.267, 103 homers and 447 RBIs in 1030 games. In particular, he showed off his monstrous stamina by playing over 950 innings for the last five consecutive seasons, including 1008.1 innings as a catcher last season. Noh Jin-hyeok also played 801 games in total, recording a batting average of 0.266, 71 home runs, 331 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.761. Han Hyun-hee, the only free agent pitcher, recorded 65 wins, 43 losses, 8 saves and 105 holds in 416 games, and is an all-weather player who can be used both in the starting and bullpen.

A whopping 17 billion won was spent just to recruit these three players. Lotte did not stop there. They deepened their depth by recruiting a large number of “release veterans” such as Ahn Kwon-soo, Lee Jeong-woo (Lee Sang-woo, outfielder), Kim Sang-soo, Shin Jeong-rak, Yoon Myeong-jun, Cha Woo-chan (Lee Sang-sang pitcher), and catcher Lee Jung-hoon. Such a storm recruitment was a struggle to get out of the lower ranks. After entering fall baseball in 3rd place in 2017, Lotte has not even reached the top 5 for 5 years.

The team’s weakness last season, Sutton saw, was the lack of decent player resources on the center line. But Sutton is convinced that this year will be different. “Completed the reinforcement of the center line,” he said. “Compared to before, running and defense have improved, and I have been able to create more specific opportunities.” As new players joined, existing players also had the effect of exerting themselves. Existing players have become a little more diligent in order not to be pushed out of position competition. Sutton said, “New players usually work hard for about two weeks and become lazy. However, our players showed their hard work every day. Young players are watching and learning. These points came together to make the team a little stronger and stronger.”

Coach Sutton has already entered his third year since he was appointed as the first team manager. As he took over the helm in May 2021, the team began to change rapidly. Conversation between players increased, and players who developed their skills in the 2nd team came up to the 1st team and began to play an active role. Good examples include Kim Min-soo, who played an active role as an infield “utility resource” last year, and Kim Do-gyu, who is selected as a candidate for Pil Seung-jo this season. In addition to this, we plan to actively appoint promising players this year. Coach Sutton said, “I want young players to feel confident that whenever their name is called, ‘I’m ready to go’. I think such small successes will be able to play an active role in the first team.”

The real ‘Sutton effect’ is slowly appearing. Representative examples are Yun Dong-hee and Kim Min-seok. Yun Dong-hee, who entered her second year as a pro this year, swung a batting average of 0.310 in the Futures League last year and won a ticket to spring camp. With Sutton’s support, he confidently competed with veteran seniors even at camp. Yoon Dong-hee recorded 2 hits in 3 at-bats, 1 RBI and 1 stolen base in a spring camp practice game against Samsung, and showed fighting spirit by participating in the SSG match.

The same is true of ‘Super Rookie’ Kim Min-seok, who wore a Lotte uniform as the 3rd overall pick in the 1st round of the 2023 draft. Coach Sutton gave Kim Min-seok unconventional opportunities, such as being the top hitter in a series of practice games and demonstration games. Responding to this, Kim Min-seok successfully completed the lead-off mission. Kim Min-seok was also selected as the MVP of the camp.

Lotte’s starting pitcher feeling is overflowing this season. It’s a happy worry. In this situation, coach Sutton has already decided on the 4th starter. The main character is Na Gyun-an. It is a substitute resource after last year’s 4th starter Lee In-bok was unable to play due to an elbow injury. Coach Sutton explained, “I expect Na Kyun-an to play the role of the 4th starter,” and explained, “For the last 5th starter spot, FA Han Hyun-hee and others will compete.” As a result, the Lotte starting pitching staff is likely to consist of Dan Strayley, Charlie Barnes, Park Se-woong, Na Kyun-an, and Han Hyun-hee.

Lotte’s final goal this year set by Sutton is to advance into the Korean Series. At first glance, it may seem like a wild dream. Lotte has been far from winning for over 30 years since its second championship in 1992. However, manager Sutton said,메이저사이트 “This year is different.” He said, “First of all, if you reach the semi-playoffs, you can advance to the playoffs. Advancing to the Korean Series is not a vain dream,” he said. “Our players have already come together as one. Nothing is impossible,” he said.

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