Why a veteran catcher stuck around for $50 million?
Lee Jae-won (36), the Hanwha Eagles’ “championship catcher of the year,” has revealed the real reason why he turned down a coaching job offer from SSG Landers.
Lee Jae-won signed a contract with Hanwha in December last year for an annual salary of 50 million won. He was on the verge of retirement after slumping to a 2-for-1 record in 105 games in 2022 with SSG and a 1-for-9 record in 27 games last year, but he requested his release directly from the club and was called up by Hanwha, which needed to bolster its catching depth.
Hanwha recognized Lee’s wealth of experience and selected him as the backup catcher behind Choi Jae-hoon and Park Sang-un.
Lee, who was drafted by SK in the first round in 2006, 안전놀이터 has a career batting average of .277 with 1087 hits, 108 home runs and 612 RBIs in 1,426 games, including three championship rings.
“I feel like I’ve been with Hanwha the whole time,” said Lee, who met with the team at its spring training camp in Melbourne, Australia, on May 5. The players and coaches are all the same people I’ve worked with before, and the front office is great.” “Actually, before I came to Hanwha, I was worried about whether I could adapt. I was excited, but I was also very worried, so I wanted to come to the camp as soon as possible, but when I got here, I realized that my worries were unfounded,” he said.
The ‘transfer student’ Lee Jae-won is always cheerful and motivated in training. He shouts out fighting words during catcher’s circle drills to raise the mood on the field, and in the bullpen, he gives advice to young pitchers such as Moon Dong-joo, Hwang Jun-seo, Kim Bum-soo, and Nam Ji-min. “This is why you can’t ignore experience,” said Choi Won-ho. How many balls has Lee Jae-won caught over the years?” and was impressed with Lee’s effectiveness.
Lee Jae-won said,
“I don’t intentionally shout my fight. If you force it, you’ll get tired,” he laughed, adding, “If you take (Kim) Bum-soo’s example, when you try to throw too hard when the ball is too good, you tend to blow it. Bum-soo is a pitcher who goes up when it’s hard, so his first-pitch strikes are important. I’ve seen a lot of good pitchers like him over the years. If he wants to get better, he needs to be a little calmer on the mound, breathe and throw the ball.”
He had a sobering message for Moon Dong-ju, who has become the homegrown ace three years after his debut. “If everyone says the ball is good, I can take it,” Lee said. I told Moon to be greedy. He should pitch with the idea of being the ace of the team, not just the ace of the team, but the ace of Korea, so that both the team and the player can develop. He shouldn’t just try to be a 10-win pitcher. Dong-ju has star power and is very serious about baseball. I think he understands what I’m saying,” he emphasized.
We also heard the real reason why Lee Jae-won turned down SSG’s coaching job offer and requested his release. He said, “If I was a normal Lee Jae-won, I would have stopped playing baseball. But I’ve been having a hard time lately, and until last year, my face was so bad, whether I was good or bad at baseball. I didn’t think it would help me at all to quit and coach.” He confessed.
But it’s different now.
“I came to Hanwha to regain myself and to help the team. “Thank you for calling me,” he said, “Fortunately, I’ve brightened up a lot since coming to Hanwha. I started hearing people say that I look happy on the baseball field again, and I am. I will continue to be like this in the future,” he added.
The challenge for Lee to survive the 2024 season will be to break out of his hitting slump. He’ll need to break the vicious cycle of batting 1.185 in 2020, 2.1 in 2022, and 9.1 in 2023. Of course, defense is the most important aspect of the catcher position, but it is impossible to survive in the first team without some batting support.
“Fortunately, I felt good hitting at the end of last year. At first, I was worried because I couldn’t keep up with my 140-kilometer fastball, but from June last year, I became more confident when I hit a 145-kilometer fastball with a technical change,” Lee said. “Many coaches, including coach Jung Kyung-bae, told me that I had improved. Of course, 바카라사이트 추천 I don’t like it because I’m still in the preparation stage,” he explained.
Finally, I asked Lee what kind of season he hopes to have with Hanwha in 2024.
“I came to Hanwha to play baseball well. First, I have to compete and (Choi) Jae-hoon has to do a good job behind me,” he said, adding, “I want to do well together and help the team become stronger. A strong team can’t tell if someone is missing. If it’s obvious, it makes the team unstable and reduces the chances of winning.”