Kim Tae-hyung prepared for his ambitious first season

As Lotte Giants manager Kim Tae-hyung prepared for his ambitious first season at the helm of the baseball team, he had a big problem. The team’s plans for the season were disrupted by the injury retirement of Han Dong-hee, a big-hitting third baseman who had been touted as the future of the team.

The Lotte Giants finished the exhibition season with a 3-5 record (.375 winning percentage) in eight games after the final game of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League against KT Wiz at KT Wiz Park in Suwon was rained out.

Manager Kim Tae-hyung said,

“We have completed some planning through the exhibition games. Now we need to finalize the opening roster, and that’s the most important part. I’m thinking about one or two spots.”

The manager’s biggest concern was the third base position, where Han Dong-hee was missing. Han underwent a medical examination on Nov. 11 and was diagnosed with a torn right adductor pollicis muscle, requiring four to six weeks of rehabilitation. The rupture prevented her from making the opening day roster after she felt something wrong in her side while batting against Sasik SSG on Tuesday.

Han Dong-hee’s injury was more disappointing than the others because he worked harder than anyone else in the offseason to make a comeback.

A native of Gyeongnam High School, the alma mater of “Lotte’s Permanent Number One” Lee Dae-ho, Han entered the professional ranks with the first overall pick in the 2018 rookie draft. 안전놀이터 추천 He earned the nickname “post-Lee Dae-ho” as a right-handed hitter in the amateur ranks, and after joining Lotte, he was considered the next best thing to Lee Dae-ho. In the professional ranks, she showed her power instincts with 17 home runs in 2020 and 2021 and 14 in 2022.

Han Dong-hee had a nightmare season last year, his sixth year as a professional.

In 108 games, he batted a career-low .304 with two doubles, three triples, five home runs, 32 RBIs, and a career-low .304 on-base percentage.

In January, with the support of his idol Lee Dae-ho, Han Dong-hee visited Kang Jeong-ho’s baseball academy in Los Angeles and conducted special training for 10 days. He then joined the first spring camp in Guam in February and got a good feeling under the advice of manager Kim Tae-hyung, assistant coach Kim Kwang-soo, and hitting coach Kim Joo-chan, and moved to the second camp in Okinawa, where he hit home run after home run in practice games. At the time, Kim said, “Han Dong-hee gained confidence. I think she can hit 20 home runs this year,” Kim said at the time.

However, Han Dong-hee’s injury threw Lotte’s plans off course.

“Han Dong-hee should play third base…” Kim lamented, “I think I’ll have to decide on third base depending on the situation. I’m worried. We have Kim Min-sung, but we have to see who will play second base depending on the opposing pitcher. If Jeon Jun-woo goes to the outfield, I have to put Go Seung-min at second base and Park Seung-wook at third base, so I’m keeping all possibilities open. I’m going to use Noh Jin-hyuk at shortstop and Park Seung-wook at second or third base. They’ll basically play every game,” he said.

First-round rookie pitcher Jeon Mir is expected to make the opening day roster. Kim said of Jeon, who has gotten a taste of the pros with a 9.00 ERA in four exhibition games, “He has the stuff to win games with his power. We are considering one or two players, but we will make a final decision soon.”

Lotte will open the 2024 season against the SSG Landers at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on May 23, the long-awaited opening game of the 2024 season.

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