KIA Tigers departs for a finishing camp in Okinawa, Japan with coach Kim Jong-kook, who is taking on the ‘Win Now’ challenge in the final year of his contract. Will Coach Kim, who has been extremely hard-pressed amidst the somewhat disappointing results achieved during his two years in office, achieve results in strengthening the depth of the fielders during the closing camp? In particular, the growth of slugging infielder Byun Woo-hyuk appears to be the biggest challenge.
Manager Kim Jong-guk, his coaching staff, and the KIA players participating in the finishing camp will depart for Okinawa, Japan via Incheon International Airport (Flight OZ172) on October 31.
KIA plans to conduct final training at Okinawa Kin Stadium from November 1 to 28 with a schedule of 4 days of training and 1 day of rest. In 2024, 28 people, including 5 new players, will participate and undergo physical and technical training.
Among the coaches participating in the finishing camp, the new faces are Coach Jeong Jae-hoon and Coach Dong-geol Lee, who are joining the pitching department. Contrary to the initial prediction that there might be a major reorganization of the first team coaching staff, KIA supported Coach Kim, who is preparing for the final year of his contract, by only making changes to the pitching department under the leadership of the front office.
Coach Kim Jong-guk plans to focus on strengthening the depth of the fielders during the final camp. If you look at the immediate power, you can see that the outfield resources are abundant, but the infield resources are relatively lacking. This is because the first baseman still has not found a starting position, the possibility of second baseman Kim Seon-bin leaving for the free agent market, and the growth of backup resources for shortstop and third baseman.
Coach Kim said at the end of the regular season, “Our team’s young fielders need to grow more. Among Byun Woo-hyuk, Kim Seok-hwan, and Oh Seon-woo, there must be at least one player who can make a splash. These are players who need to be solidified starting from the fall camp. “It is important which player emerges first, and the player who grabs the opportunity when it comes will become the starting player,” he emphasized.안전놀이터
In particular, Byun Woo-hyuk is an important resource that must show hope for the 2024 season through this finishing camp. Byun Woo-hyuk, who joined KIA in the 2023 season, participated in 83 games in the season and finished the season with a batting average of 0.225/45 hits/7 home runs/24 RBI/on-base percentage of 0.314/slugging percentage of 0.350. Byun Woo-hyuk had irregular opportunities to play in games, but was unable to secure a starting position due to a gap year due to COVID-19 infection in the middle of the season.
The biggest concern for KIA as it prepares for the 2024 season is first base. This is a position where reinforcement is considered in various directions, such as trade and second draft, as well as recruiting external free agents. In the end, the most ideal way to prevent major bleeding is for Byun Woo-hyuk to establish himself through internal growth. Coach Kim Jong-guk is also expected to pay more attention to Byun Woo-hyuk’s growth rate during the final camp period.
Attention is being paid to whether Byun Woo-hyuk can achieve meaningful results in the closing camp along with manager Kim Jong-guk and hitting coaches Lee Beom-ho and Hong Se-wan.