“I want them to look at something bigger than ’10-win pitcher’.”
These are the words of Hanwha Eagles catcher Choi Jae-hoon to his junior Moon Dong-joo. He had achieved great things – becoming the first Korean pitcher to break 160 kilometres in an official game, winning an Asian Games gold medal, and being named the KBO League Rookie of the Year – but he wanted to improve day by day, not rest on his laurels.
Now, Moon has a chance to experience the ‘pinnacle’ in advance. He was included in the preliminary roster of Team Korea, which will face the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres on 17-18 March. With the Hangzhou Asian Games and APBC (Asian Professional Baseball Championship) squads dominating the roster, Moon is expected to make Team Korea barring any unforeseen circumstances.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a major league team, and a hitter who is 100 per cent fit for the start of the season, in action. It will be exciting to see Moon, who has been touted by Korean fans as a top prospect who could one day make it to the big leagues, face off against big league hitters.
What makes this match-up even more intriguing is the presence of Shohei Ohtani, the Dodgers’ designated hitter.
After undergoing elbow surgery at the end of last season with the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani has been in a Dodgers uniform since the start of this season. He will not be pitching this year, but rather batting as a designated hitter. 스포츠토토 Initially, there was speculation that he might not make the long journey for the Seoul Series. However, Ohtani expressed his desire to play, saying, “I’m confident that I will play in the opening game (of the Seoul Series).” If Ohtani is able to play, he will likely face off against Moon Dong-ju.
There is no timing issue for the starter to pitch for Team Korea. He shouldn’t be pushing himself too hard right before the season starts, but he shouldn’t be pitching at 100% either. Whether he will pitch against the Dodgers or San Diego remains to be seen. Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “It’s a time when you can throw at full strength. It’s not often that you get the chance to pitch against major league players. Within the number of pitches you can throw, you have to test yourself by pitching 100 per cent.”
“The Major League Baseball is a league of world-class players. It’s every athlete’s dream, and I wanted to experience it at least once,” he said, adding, “I also wanted to face American players at least once, and this opportunity came earlier than I expected.” “It’s important to give 100 per cent, but it’s also important to do your best,” he said, adding that he hoped the match would be an opportunity for him to improve. However, he also hinted that he would control his motivation, saying, “The regular season comes first, so if I put everything into (the Seoul Series), it could be too much.” Senior Choi Jae-hoon said, “I’m very happy with the evaluation. I will try to do it with the idea of ‘I can’ rather than ‘I can’t’. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. My mindset is important. I’m not going to be complacent,” he said.
All eyes are on Moon Dong-ju, the KBO League’s rookie king, who will be tested against big leaguers.