The center batting line of this year’s KT Wiz is formidable. Mel Rojas Jr., a former MVP of the 2020 KBO League, has returned, and Park Byung-ho and Kang Baek-ho will join the team. Who will be the fourth batter among them? “I am determined to go with Park Byung-ho until the end,” KT manager Lee Kang-chul said. “Personally, I was disappointed last year. I will recover my slugging percentage this season,” Park told reporters at Gijang Hyundai Motor Dream Ball Park in Busan, KT’s spring camp site.
Having made his debut with the LG Twins after receiving the first nomination in 2005, Park transferred to KT as a free agent in 2022 after playing for the Kiwoom Heroes. He played in 124 games in the 2022 season, his first year at KT, and posted a batting average of 0.275 (118 hits in 429 at-bats) with 35 homers and 98 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of 0.559. Last season, he played 132 games with a batting average of 0.283 (122 hits in 431 at-bats) with 18 homers and 87 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of 0.443. The number of homers has significantly decreased, and the number of RBIs and slugging percentages has also declined.월카지노주소
“I prepared for the season a little faster than before. I worked out and practiced batting. I started exercising right after finishing the last season without taking much rest, and I have been doing it consistently,” Park said. “This is partly due to the fact that the opening (March 23) was pushed forward, but I wanted to play better on my own. That’s why I started training early on.”
He gave an objective evaluation of the previous season. “I had a lot of regrets. I had a good memory as I exceeded 30 home runs in 2022, but I failed to hit 20 home runs last year,” Park said. “To become a better player, I need to create more home runs. Home runs are important this season, but my biggest goal is to recover the slugging percentage.”
Kang Baek-ho and Rojas will be at the front and back of Park Byung-ho. The two will divide No. 3 and No. 5 depending on the situation. “It is true that if there is a batter at the back who can hit long-distance shots, the pressure will be reduced relatively,” Park said in a nod. “Everyone can be in good condition or in bad condition, so I think it would be ideal if another player takes care of one when he or she is struggling.”
As for Rojas, who returned to KT after a four-year hiatus, he said, “He is a foreign player who displayed outstanding performances in Korea. I heard that he was a good teammate who respected Korean culture outside of baseball,” adding, “I have high expectations on many aspects. I try to communicate more and get help. I will do my best together.”
There are several variables. These are the systems that will be introduced in the KBO League. Key examples are the automatic pitch determination system (ABS), which is called “robot umpire,” and pitch clock, which imposes a time limit between pitchers’ pitches. Based on the first team, ABS will be applied immediately in the 2024 season, and pitch clock will be reviewed for application in the second half after a trial run in the first half. In the case of pitch clock, a batter should be ready to hit by eight seconds left. In addition, the number of times a batter’s time is limited to one per at-bat.
“I heard that you can experience the ABS at exhibition games. Anyone can feel awkward about it. I don’t know which side is more favorable or disadvantageous between pitchers and batters,” Park said. “Both pitchers and batters have to adapt. Even if you experience trial and error, the key is to adapt quickly.”
“In the case of Peach Clark, I also have a routine that I do when I go to bat, so I tried to reduce that routine in advance. The purpose of the introduction of the systems is to shorten the game time and I sympathize with that, so I try to adapt well,” he added.
Last year, Park Byung-ho pitched 730 ⅓s as the main first baseman. He became the first winner in the defense first baseman category introduced in the KBO League. “I will continue to build up my physical strength so that I can play in more than 100 games as a first baseman this year. I will always be preparing,” Park said, before expressing his true feelings. “I hope that he will often play as a designated hitter considering his physical strength. The coach will make decisions for me.”
The backup first baseman has yet to be determined. Kang is expected to prepare as an outfielder. “Whatever players become, I hope they can compete equally with those who play as the main players. That way, the team will become stronger. I think everyone will do their best,” Park said,
The ultimate goal for this year is simple. “We had some regrets during the last season, but we advanced to the Korean Series (second place). Based on our experience last year, I want to win this season. It is my biggest dream,” Park said.
A welcome teammate has joined KT. It is right-handed underhander Woo Kyu-min. Woo was selected as the sixth pick in the first round by KT in the second round of the KBO draft, which took place after the end of last season. Park Byung-ho and Woo Kyu-min used to be together at LG in the past. Woo Kyu-min joined LG in 2003 and Park Byung-ho in 2005. KT captain Park Kyung-soo, who is Woo’s best friend, also joined the team in 2003. The three players will meet at KT this year.
“We shared memories together when we were young. As we became seniors, we met again, which made us feel unique. We hope to show good results by supporting and relying on each other a lot. When I see (W) Kyu-min now, he is exactly the same as I was when I first joined KT. He looks very excited and asks a lot of questions. I believe that Kyu-min and (Park) Kyung-soo will lead our players well as the best pitching and hitting players, respectively. That’s why I like him.”