“I think Lotte’s catching staff is the best in the league.”
The new manager of the Lotte Giants, Kim Tae-hyung, is confident that Lotte’s catching staff is as good as any in the league. “There are so many games that Yoo Kang-nam has played, and there are younger catchers, so I think I can give them some advice based on my experience,” Kim said.
Yoo Kang-nam, who joined the team as a free agent for 4 years and 8 billion won, Son Seong-bin, who showed his strength after retiring from the business world, and Lee Jung-geun, whose offense has blossomed with the trust of the pitching staff. After the departure of Kang Min-ho (Samsung) in 2018, this season was the first time in six years that the team solved its catching problems. They have a solid starting catcher and a full complement of backup catchers to back him up. This year, Lotte went with a “three-in-three-color” catching staff.
Kim Tae-hyung, a defensive catcher with leadership and charisma during his playing days, has had the best career as a coach. With seven consecutive Korean Series appearances and three Korean Series titles, he’s one of the best in the game today. He has worked with and trained some of the best catchers in the league, including Yang Ji (Doosan) and Park Se-hyuk (NC). Kim never overlooks the role of the catcher.
Usually, the closing drills are reserved for players who have been playing full-time, while veteran players take time to recharge. Pitchers who have pitched a lot during the season also start to recover rather than train. However, in the first turn of Lotte’s final training session, Yoo Kang-nam, who joined the team as a free agent this year and took over the role of the main catcher, is now reporting to Sangdong Stadium.
Manager Kim Tae-hyung, a former catcher himself, asked Yoo Kang-nam to attend the final training session immediately after the meeting to get to know Lotte, but only for the first part of the final training schedule. “This training turn, at the most, I will only come out and rest until the next turn,” said Kim Tae-hyung, explaining why he called Yoo Kang-nam to Sang-dong, saying, “I came to train to improve my hitting, but the important thing is that I have a lot of questions about the pitchers.”
Yoo Kang-nam also explained, “The manager told me that I need to fill in the batting aspect a little better, and I came to the final training to match what I felt and what the manager felt, such as the tendency of the pitchers.”
Kim Tae-hyung’s first task in the final workout was to watch the pitching staff pitch out of the bullpen. All of the pitchers in the program were prepared to pitch out of the bullpen on the first day of training. Most of the first and second days were spent watching bullpen pitches. Jung Sung-jong and Kim Jin-wook, who are expected to be on the first team mound, were among the pitchers Kim watched closely. He is eager to find gems that can and should perform on the first-team mound, and to facilitate this process, he asked the veteran catcher for his opinion.
In addition, Kim Tae-hyung wanted to focus on Son Seong-bin, who drew attention for his strong fastball after he was discharged from the Merchant Marine this year. However, Son will join the national team for the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), which begins next month on April 16. With the tournament starting on the 5th of next month, Kim won’t have much time to work with him. It’s a shame that Son won’t be able to leave the final training session.메이저놀이터
For now, Son is in the recovery group and will start working with Kim Tae-hyung from the second training turn, which starts on the 30th of next month. There are only five days left for Kim and Son to work together.
“He wants to work on his batting a little bit,” Kim said of Son, “He’s a strong player, but I want him to swing according to his strength. I think he can hit long enough, but he can’t get the timing right.” He sees room for him to grow as a hitter and develop his long ball power. It’s a shame that he didn’t get more time. Kim doesn’t seem to have a problem with the defense.
Son Sung-bin is also looking forward to working with Kim. “I haven’t had a face-to-face meeting yet, but I can’t wait to do it,” he said, “He’s specialized in catchers, so I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also not scared. I’m prepared to get yelled at. I feel like I learn faster and more directly when I get scolded.”
Yoo Kang-nam, Son Sung-bin, and the current rehabilitation group. We can’t wait to see how coach Kim Tae-hyung and his ‘3-in-3-color’ catching staff will work together.