“I really need Jun-woo and Chi-hong”
The Lotte Giants’ Koo Seung-min has appeared in 67 games this year, pitching 63⅔ innings, with a record of 2-6, 22 holds, three saves, and a 3.96 ERA. Not only did he become the first Lotte “franchise” to reach the 100-hold milestone, but he also had a significant season, becoming the second pitcher in KBO history to reach the 20-hold plateau for four consecutive years after Ahn Ji-Man (formerly of the Samsung Lions). However, unlike his individual performance, his team performance was very disappointing.
Lotte started the season with a bang, capitalizing on their newfound resources and the strength of their bullpen. However, the euphoria was short-lived. Lotte’s performance began to decline in June, and their five-win percentage collapsed before the All-Star break. The second half of the season saw the departure of manager Larry Sutton, leaving the team with a dismal seventh-place finish, undermining the massive offseason investment.
Koo Seung-min attended the inauguration ceremony of the 21st head coach Kim Tae-hyung at the Lotte Hotel Busan Sapphire Room in Seomyeon, Busan, on April 24 to congratulate the new manager. Koo Seung-min attended the inauguration ceremony with his “best friend” Kim Won-joong and “free agents” Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong, handed a bouquet of flowers to Kim Tae-hyung, and had a chance to greet the new manager, who will be eating a one-pot meal for the 2024 season. After the inauguration ceremony, he met with the media.
When asked about his conversation with Kim Tae-hyung, Koo said, “He didn’t ask for anything in particular. He smiled and asked me, ‘Is your arm okay now?’ I said, ‘It’s fine. I told him, ‘I’m resting well.’ He has a very good impression of you. I saw you in the elevator, and we’ll have to train together, but it’s nice to say hello to you first, and you’re very relaxed. I feel like you are more relaxed than other people.” “I think I have to prepare hard now so that the director’s calculation can stand. I’ve been doing that every time, but I’ll do a better job of preparing so I can repay the faith.”굿모닝토토
Koo Seung-min, who has worked with many managers since he was a member of Lotte, said, “Kim Tae-hyung has been a manager for a long time. I think there is a lot to learn from him, not only in baseball but also in other areas. I want to learn a lot from him,” he said, adding, “Many managers have changed over the years. In a way, he was responsible for the team’s performance. At the time, I was busy playing my own baseball at a young age, but this time, I feel like I have a lot of responsibility.” He also had a time of reflection.
He continued, “As a pitching coach, I was responsible for the parts that were lacking and the parts that I couldn’t bring together. I don’t know if I will pitch next year or not, but as a senior, I will think a lot about how to improve the team’s performance more than my own, and how to help the manager. I think I’ll have to spend a lot of time in the offseason,” he said emphatically.
On the same day, Kim Tae-hyung sent a message to Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong, who will be eligible for free agency after this year’s Korean Series, asking them to “stay and help,” as well as to Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong, who will become free agents after the 2024 season ends. “It’s not something I can openly say, ‘Please sign me,'” Koo Seung-min laughed, adding, “I’m not going to think about it because it’s not going to happen now. For now, the most important thing is to prepare for the 2024 season.”
Manager Kim Tae-hyung said, “Winning is not as easy as it sounds. But even here, I will tell you that (the goal) is to win,” he said. Koo Seung-min added, “I always imagine (winning), but then I think, ‘I have to do it. ‘ Every year I think, ‘I have to do it, even if it means breaking my arm,’ but this year I feel like it’s even worse. And since I felt that for a little while this year, I think I’ll be a little better next year. If I ran and didn’t look back because I didn’t know how to do it, now I know how to make saves, and just like I came up to the big leagues and didn’t know what I was doing and I was throwing and I was breaking down and I found it a little bit, I think that’s what’s going to happen with this team.”
The presence of free agents Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong will be essential for the team to reach the postseason and eventually win a championship. “We really need (Jeon) Jun-woo and (Ahn) Chi-hong,” Koo said, “They’re really necessary. When Jun-woo and Chi-hong come up to bat, I feel excited, and I don’t want to face them, especially Chi-hong. When I played against them when I was in the National Police Agency, I was too weak against them. That’s why they should be on our team.”
“When I had 20 holds for three years in a row, I didn’t say, ‘I’ll have 20 holds for the fourth year in a row. If I don’t get sick, the record will follow. Next year will be the same. I’m always going to be thinking and preparing for 60 games. If I set a goal and don’t reach it, it will hurt too much,” he said, adding, “I will start working out while traveling back and forth between Seoul and Busan.”