“The team I’ve been with for 12 years, KS…and I’m not there” The regret of an 8 billion catcher, an honest reflection

“The energy I felt was strong. And when I scored a run, it came all at once, and I was dazed.”

From the dreaded head of the ‘Hanji Bungu’ rival team to ‘our manager’. The Lotte Giants’ Yoo Kang-nam has a special place in his heart for new manager Kim Tae-hyung.

He vividly remembers the fear that raged in the dugout across the street. In particular, he remembers the pressure of being crushed by a 1-15 record against the Giants in 2018.

“He smiles, but it’s not a smile,” he says, “it’s a nervous smile. He’s nervous every day.”

He is a rare catcher among the KBO’s current first-team managers. “I will learn a lot from him because he is a manager in the same position,” Yoo Kang-nam said, “I plan to prepare for training while always recognizing his words in my head, so that I can be useful to him.”안전놀이터

Coach Yoo Kang-nam and Kim Tae-hyung. Reporter Kim Young-rok
In particular, Kim Tae-hyung praised the Lotte catching staff at the inauguration ceremony, saying that they were “top-notch.” Yoo Kang-nam said, “I will not show any weaknesses in the future. We will prepare to be called a ‘catcher powerhouse,'” Yoo emphasized.

“When I played against the coach (as an opponent), the catchers were Yang Ji and Park Se-hyuk, and they were a team that was good at judging the situation at the right time and driving, and I think that’s the coach’s ability.”

He became the “8 billion catcher” when he donned a Lotte uniform as a free agent. However, his individual stats of 2.061 runs, 10 home runs, 55 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.745 left something to be desired.

“It’s unfortunate that my performance came so late in the season. If I had just done half of the second half at the beginning… But if I had finished the season with my first half performance, I would have been criticized a lot more than I am now.

Photo courtesy of the Lotte Giants
“The chances of a top-five finish were lowered, but I’m glad that my performance improved because I focused on every at-bat and thought, ‘I don’t want it to end like this.

He was overwhelmed with responsibility and pressure. “It’s not like I was paid a small amount of money…so the answer was to keep it simple, and that’s the difference between the first half and the second half,” Yoo said. “Still, the starting pitching staff’s ERA (3.83) is good. It’s the best in recent years,” he said.

Photo courtesy of the Lotte Giants
Yoo Kang-nam joined the LG Twins in 2011 and has been their main catcher since 2015. This year, however, he switched to Lotte, and the Twins are looking to win their first Korean Series title since 2002.

“The team I played for for more than 10 years went to the Korean Series as soon as I moved. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But I’m a Lotte player now. I hope we can be there next year.”


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