Lee Jung-hoo, who has evolved one step further, shows the dignity of a preliminary big leaguer at the WBC 

The first round elimination has already been confirmed. However, the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Korean team did their best until the end.

In the final 4th match against China in the WBC Group B group stage held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on the 13th,안전놀이터 Korea won a cold game 22-5, with Park Gun-woo (NC) and j Kim Ha-seong (San Diego) leading the way with a grand home run. After winning the match against the Czech Republic the previous day, Korea finished the tournament in third place in Group B with a record of 2 wins and 2 losses. Although they failed to advance to the quarterfinals as well as the quarterfinals, which was their goal, it was professional to do their best until the end against China, which was considered weak. Coach Lee Kang-cheol bowed his head after the game, saying, “The players did their best to prepare, but I couldn’t produce good results because I was lacking.”

It was a competition full of wounds, but it was not without its harvest. Above all, through this WBC, we were able to see the skill and dignity of Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom), the ‘grandson of the wind’, the best star in Korean professional baseball.

Last year, he won 5 batting crowns (batting average, hits, RBIs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage) and was selected as the MVP of the regular league 6 years after his professional debut, and he hung on to revising his batting form throughout last winter. Aiming to advance into the American Professional Baseball Major League (MLB) through the posting system (private competitive bidding) after this season, he took the risk of changing his batting form concisely to deal with MLB pitchers who throw balls at an average speed of 150 km/h. There were a lot of people around me who were concerned. It’s because it’s easier said than done to change the posture he’s been doing all his life. A person who has served as a professional baseball manager said, “After all, the beginning is important. If the results come out right, he can push the modified batting form, but if not, he will go back to his original batting form.” This WBC stage was Lee Jung-hoo’s first real fight after changing his batting form. It is also aimed at high-level foreign players, not domestic pitchers.

The result was a great success. Lee Jung-hoo has been the brightest hitter on the Korean national team throughout this tournament. Including the hit against Australia on the 9th, which the Korean national team selected as the most important game, Lee Jung-hoo played a big role in this tournament with 6 hits in 14 at-bats (0.429 batting average) and 5 RBIs.

In particular, on the 10th, he showed off his true value to the fullest in the confrontation with his archrival Japan. He scored two hits against Japanese pitchers who threw a 150km fastball, excellent control, and a forkball that was difficult to capture. On this day, the Korean batting line had only 6 hits during the 9th inning. Two hits, one-third of them, came from Lee Jung-hoo’s bat.

At an official press conference after the last game against China, Lee Jung-hoo said, “Many young players, including me, participated, and I felt desperately that their skills were inferior to many world-class players.” I will try to make it even better at the WBC.”

The day before, Lee Jung-hoo said of the match against Japan, which was defeated 4-13, “It’s been a few days, but it’s still shocking. I don’t know when my baseball life will end, but I think I’ll keep thinking about it. He had resentment and was thinking, ‘What is this?’” he said.

However, on this day, he also mentioned the harvest and confidence gained from the match against Japan. He said, “I prepared all winter to hit fast balls and breaking balls. He said, “It is a harvest that he coped with the Japanese pitchers who threw good balls without swinging.”

It really was. Lee Jung-hoo went to bat 4 times that day and dealt with 15 pitches, but there was not a single missed swing. He hit a good ball, and the ball was filtered out. And hard-to-hit balls were made into fouls.

On this day, Lee Jeong-hoo roared from first base after hitting a clean heavy hit that brought in a runner from second base in the third inning against 95-win major league pitcher Darubisyu Yu (San Diego), who started as a starting pitcher for Japan. In the 5th inning, Shota Imana (Yokohama DeNA), Japan’s proud left-handed ace, recorded a double that landed on the left field line.

In response to the question, “What was the at-bat that left the most impression on you?” Lee Jung-hoo said, “The hit I hit against Darubis is also memorable, but the foul ball I hit right in the first at-bat (out with a fly ball in right field) is the most memorable. ” he said. Against Japan’s great pitcher Daru Bish, he gained confidence that he fully took his swing and hit the center of his bat exactly.

In this way, Lee Jung-hoo, who has evolved one step further, does not seem to be far away from entering the major leagues. His performance was so impressive that a Japanese reporter asked at an official press conference, “Do you have any intention of playing on the Japanese stage?” In response, Lee Jung-hoo said, “Now, the priority is to do well in Korean professional baseball this year. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it is my wish to challenge the American stage.” Throughout the tournament, Lee Jung-hoo showed his outstanding skills, challenging spirit, and strong will to win through his play, not words. For Jung-Hoo Lee, a ‘preliminary major leaguer’, it seems that the major league of his dreams is already in front of his eyes. in Tokyo

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