The real reason why Lee Jae-won (36), the “old winning catcher” who succeeded in extending his active duty with the Hanwha Eagles, insisted on playing active duty, let alone the SSG Landers’ offer to coach has been revealed.
Lee Jae-won signed a contract with Hanwha in December last year for an annual salary of 50 million won (approx. Lee was on the verge of retirement after suffering a slump of .201 in 105 games in 2022 at the SSG, and 9.1 in 27 games last year, but he requested the team to release him in person, and was called by Hanwha, whose task was to strengthen the depth of the catcher.라바카지노주소
The Hanwha Eagles praised Lee Jae-won’s rich experience and selected him as a backup catcher who supports Choi Jae-hoon and Park Sang-eon. Lee Jae-won, who was first selected by the SK Wyverns in 2006, has a total of 2,788 hits, 108 homers and 612 RBIs in 1,426 games including three championship rings.
“I think I stayed at Hanwha. The players and coaches are all good players, and the front desk is great,” Lee Jae-won said at the Melbourne Spring Camp in Australia on the 5th. “Before I came to Hanwha, I was worried if I could adjust. I was looking forward to it but I was also very worried. So I wanted to come to the camp as soon as possible. But when I came here, my worries were unfounded.”
Lee Jae-won, the “transfer student,” is engaged in training with cheerful and motivated spirit. It is a basic rule to cheer up the atmosphere of the team by shouting “fighting” during the catcher’s team training, and he has been giving advice to young pitchers including Moon Dong-ju, Hwang Joon-seo, Kim Bum-soo and Nam Ji-min at the bullpen session. “This is why we cannot ignore his experience. How many balls has Lee Jae-won caught so far?” Choi said, expressing satisfaction with the effect.
“I don’t shout ‘fighting’ on purpose. If you force yourself to shout ‘fighting,’ you will be exhausted,” Lee Jae-won said with a smile. “For example, (Kim) Bum-soo tends to throw balls when he tries to throw too strongly even though the ball is too good.” Bum-soo is a pitcher who moves up when facing difficulties, so strikes with the first pitch are important. I have received many good pitching balls like Bum-soo. If he wants to get better, he needs to calm down and catch his breath on the mound.”
He sent a cool-minded message to Moon, who assumed the ace position in Korea three years after his debut. “If everyone says they like the ball, I can take it,” Lee Jae-won said. “I told Moon to be greedy. Only when he throws the ball with the mindset that he will become an ace representing Korea, not just an ace in his team, can his team and players develop. You should not simply try to become a pitcher who wins 10 games. He is a star player and is very serious about baseball. That’s why he must have understood me well.”
We could also hear the real reason why Lee Jae-won rejected SSG’s offer to coach and requested his release. “If I had been showing an ordinary side of Lee Jae-won, I would have stopped playing baseball. However, he had a hard time lately, and his expression was so bad that he couldn’t play baseball well until last year. I didn’t think it would help him to quit like this and become a leader at all,” he said.
However, it is different now. “I came to Hanwha to regain my self and be helpful to the team. I was grateful that you invited me,” Lee said. “Fortunately, I became much brighter now that I came to Hanwha. I started hearing again that I look happy in the baseball field. I am actually happy. I will continue to be like this in the future.”
Lee Jae-won, who succeeded in extending his active duty, will have to overcome his batting slump in the 2024 season. He has to break the vicious circle of hitting average of 185 percent in 2020, 201 percent in 2022, and 91 percent in 2023. Of course, defense is the most important given the nature of catcher’s position, but if the batting is not supported to some extent, he cannot survive in the first division entry.
“Fortunately, I had a good feeling of hitting at the end of last year,” Lee said. “At first, I was worried because I couldn’t keep up with the 140-km fastball, but I gained confidence as I hit 145-km fastball along with technological change starting in June last year,” Lee Jae-won said. “A lot of coaches including Chung Kyung-bae say that I got better. Of course, I don’t like it because I’m still in the preparation stage.”
Lastly, I asked Lee Jae-won what kind of season he wants to spend with Hanwha in 2024. “I came here to play baseball well with Hanwha. First of all, I need to compete and (Choi) Jae-hoon to show good performance from behind,” he said, stressing, “I want to contribute to the team’s strength by doing well together. I can’t tell who’s missing from the strong team. If it’s obvious, the team will become nervous and the team will lose its chance of winning.”