Hanwha’s Ha Joo-seok, 29, has been demoted to the second team due to a combination of poor hitting and defensive errors.
Hanwha removed infielder Ha Joo-seok from the first-team roster and called up outfielder Kwon Kwang-min ahead of their game against Samsung on June 23.
Ha was suspended for 70 games by the KBO after being caught driving under the influence last November, but his suspension was lifted on June 29. After serving his suspension without playing in any reserve games, Ha played two games in the second-team Futures League and made his first roster appearance of the season on June 11.
However, a 1-for-1 (.114) batting average coupled with a crucial error sent him back down to the second team after 43 days.
Mistake with two outs in the ninth inning that cost the game: “It’s hard for me right now”
Since returning to the first team, Ha has struggled at the plate, batting 1-for-25 (4-for-35) with two doubles, two walks and 10 strikeouts for a .327 OPS. In his last 10 games, he has only played as a pinch hitter instead of starting. He started at shortstop to bolster his defense late in games, but made a costly error against Samsung Electronics on April 22.
Han stole second base in the ninth inning with Hanwha leading 2-1. Samsung’s Ryu Ji-hyuk hit a grounder that went over the pitcher’s head, but shortstop Ha Ju-seok couldn’t get it out of bounds and dropped the ball. A grounder to shortstop should have ended the game, but Ha’s throwing error put runners on second and third. Samsung went on to score four runs in the bottom of the inning to complete the 5-3 comeback win.
With the loss, Hanwha has now dropped three straight games. At 42 wins, 56 losses and six ties (.429 winning percentage), Hanwha dropped from eighth to ninth in the standings. They are now one point behind Samsung (46 W, 60 L, 1 D, .434), which has won two straight. It was difficult to keep Ha Joo-seok in the first team any longer after his costly errors in tough situations, and with Lee Do-yoon fully established as the starting shortstop, there was no need to rely on him.
Hanwha head coach Choi Won-ho made the decision to move him to the second team. In an interview before the game on the 23rd, Choi Won-ho said, “I put him in the first team because of his defense, but it’s hard for him to play like that, and I can’t put him in that situation. There’s no reason for me to be here (in the first team) right now. He’s not hitting as well as he should,” revealing the reason for Ha’s move to the second team.
Eight-month hiatus, including a postseason appearance in Japan’s Miyazaki Education League
Although the mistake was a decisive factor, the underlying reason for the move to the second team was poor hitting. After playing the season finale against the Changwon NC on October 8 last year, Ha did not play an actual game for more than eight months before his suspension was lifted on June 29. He was allowed to play in residency games, which are not official KBO games, but he only trained privately as a sign of self-restraint.
He couldn’t ignore the lack of practice. He earned a call-up to the first team after going 6-for-11 with one home run, three RBIs, and one walk in a Futures League game between the Heroes’ second team and the Goyang on May 5-6, but was unable to keep up with the first team pitchers. In his second game back, he came in as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the eighth inning against Gochuk Kiwoom on March 25 and hit an RBI single to left to set the stage for a come-from-behind victory, but he hasn’t shown any noticeable hitting since.메이저놀이터
Manager Choi Won-ho said, “I think I need to calm down and play a lot of (Futures) games. Right now, I’m getting about one at-bat as a pinch-hitter (in the first team), but I can’t adjust to hitting like that. I need to train with the Futures and play a lot of games to get a feel for it.”
Ha will also participate in an educational league in Miyazaki, Japan, after the season ends. Usually, younger players in their early to mid-20s go to the training league to gain experience, and Ha will be among the juniors. The idea is for him to play as many games as possible to get a feel for the fastball, as his bat speed hasn’t kept up with the fastball after an eight-month absence.
Meanwhile, outfielder Kwon Kwang-min stepped up to fill Ha’s spot. Choi said, “Looking at the Futures Team Report, we don’t have any players with good batting form to recommend. I thought we needed more outfield defense than infield, so I called up Kwon Kwang-min.”