“I was hoping to be selected for the Asian Games”
The Armed Forces Athletic Department individually notified the prospective members of the Sangmu Baseball Team of their final acceptance on January 1. Lee Jung-yong (LG) and Lee Byung-sung (KT), Koo Chang-mo, Kim Young-kyu, Cho Min-seok, Oh Jang-jang, Oh Tae-yang, Park Sung-jae (NC), Heo Yoon-dong and Cho Min-sung (Samsung), Han Seung-yeon and Kim Sun-woo (KIA), and Yoon San-hum and Park Jung-hyun (Hanwha) are the 14 players who will join the team in December.
The most eye-catching of the new recruits is Lee Jung-yong. He applied to join the team last year, but withdrew his application before the final announcement was made. When Yoon Kyung-yeop took over as LG’s new head coach after Ryu Ji-hyun’s departure, he encouraged Lee Jung-yong and Lee Jae-won to enlist, and they stayed with the organization.
Of course, there was a good reason. With Yim Kyung-yup as the new commander, Lee Jung-yong and Lee Jae-won were indispensable to the team’s need to perform. In addition, Lee Jung-yong and Lee Jae-won could be exempted from military service if they were selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games based on their performances in the 2023 season.
This was certainly a possibility, as Lee had impressed in his rookie season with a 3-5 record and 3.71 ERA in 34 games, a 3-3 record and 2.97 ERA in 66 games the following year, and a 4-4 record with 22 saves and a 3.34 ERA last year. However, LG and Lee’s math didn’t work out.
LG gave Lee the “back door” role in place of “closer” Ko Woo-seok, who was injured in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) earlier this season. However, Lee struggled from his first appearance of the season, finishing April with a 2-1 record, three saves, and a 5.93 ERA.
To add insult to injury, he had a bad April. After a lackluster April, Lee was shut down in five games in May, allowing three runs (two earned) in 4⅔ innings for a 3.86 ERA, before being scratched from the first team due to shoulder soreness. There is no timetable for Lee’s return at this point. He hasn’t pitched a second-team game yet due to shoulder pain.
Before the game against the Lotte Giants in Jamsil on the 1st, when asked if he was relieved that Lee Jung-yong was selected to the team, Yeom Kyung-yeop said, “Yes, I was. I couldn’t let him go.” After being silent for a while, Yeom said, “I was hoping to be selected for the Asian Games by performing a little better, but I don’t think it will be easy.” He expressed his regret inwardly.
Each team can only send a maximum of three players to the Asian Games. Even if an athlete is better than the rest of the team, he or she still has to overcome intra-team competition. For LG, a team full of young up-and-comers, the competition is fierce. “The pace should have been a little better in the beginning,” he said, “but the pace wasn’t too good. I think I need to work harder and raise my salary.”먹튀검증
He went on to apologize to Lee Jeong-yong, saying, “You delayed your career by a year because of me, but you shouldn’t be without something to gain.” He apologized to Lee Jung-yong for not joining the company earlier. When Lee gave up on joining the merchant marine, there was talk that he would not be accepted when he reapplied due to his so-called “grave sin”. Fortunately, he was accepted on his second application and was able to fulfill his military service while continuing to play baseball.