The Doosan Bears are preparing for the 2024 season in earnest, leaving behind the disappointment of a short fall baseball season. As the Bears prepare for the second season of Lee Seung-yeop’s tenure, the team is expected to undergo a hell of a training regimen, and fostering a catcher to back up starter Yang Yang-ji is a big task.
In Lee’s first season as manager in 2023, Doosan finished fifth in the regular season and was eliminated in the first round of the wild-card playoffs. The team returned to fall baseball for the first time in two years, but the postseason, which lasted just one game, was a disappointment.
After a short break, Doosan will begin preparations for the 2024 season with a final camp starting in November. Some players who are participating in the Miyazaki Phoenix Education League are expected to return home on November 1 for a short break before joining the final camp. Above all, manager Lee Seung-yeop hopes to be more involved in the training of the Yasujin in the final camp to make up for the disappointment he felt in the 2023 season. Lee Seung-yeop-pyo’s hell training is expected.
One of the most important tasks in the final camp is to develop a backup catcher. After re-signing Yang Ji this season, Doosan has primarily utilized Jang Seung-hyun as a backup catcher. Yang played 773 defensive innings at catcher this season. Jang Seung-hyun has logged 390.1 innings at catcher. Considering he missed time in August with a side injury, Yang has logged quite a few defensive innings at the age of 36.도메인
Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop said before the start of the season that he was “considering a plan to have Yang play catcher defense about four times a week and leave the other two games to a backup catcher.”
However, reducing Yang’s playing time at catcher has been easier said than done, as he is a big part of both the offense and defense. Yang wore the starting catcher’s mask six times in the final eight games of the regular season.
Of course, Yang is known to have a strong desire to start at catcher himself. However, Yang will be one year and one day older in 2024, so the 1987-born veteran’s management of defensive innings at catcher will need to become more sophisticated each year. The growth of the backup catchers will be crucial in order to maintain the “4+2” direction that Lee has envisioned.
Jang Seung-hyun, the No. 1 backup to Yang, actually posted worse hitting numbers this year than he has in recent years. In 76 games in 2023, Jang hit just .158 with 22 doubles, three home runs, and nine RBIs. While his defense has been steady compared to other backup catchers, Jang will need to grow his bat to become more established. The switch-hitter challenge he had planned for this season has also fallen by the wayside, so a turning point in his batting rebound is urgently needed in this final camp.
Aside from Jang Seung-hyun, Ahn Seung-han and Park Yoo-yeon, who have first-team experience, and Jang Gyu-bin and Yoon Jun-ho, who have yet to play in a first-team game, will also need to challenge for backup spots in this final camp. With the introduction of automatic strike ball judgment (ABS) in the KBO for the 2024 season, there will be less pressure on the defense and more opportunity to showcase their batting strengths. It will be interesting to see if Doosan and manager Lee Seung-yeop can meet the challenge of developing a backup catcher in November’s final camp.