C, a foreign pitcher I once met, was a stickler for self-care, from taking care of his body before and after games to taking the game seriously and being competitive. Sometimes his fighting spirit would boil over and he would get rough, and sometimes he would try to control things that weren’t his domain.
On one occasion, C suffered an arm injury that led to a lengthy rehabilitation. When the doctor declared that he had recovered, C said, “It’s not complete. I’m going to send it to my doctor in the U.S. and get his opinion,” and asked for more time. The player and the team realize they have different ideas. “If I’m going to keep playing baseball, I need to know exactly how healthy I am. If there’s something wrong with my body, I should take a break.” The team says, “The doctor says he’s fine, but we don’t have the same level of medicine in Korea. They’re not thinking about the team’s situation, they’re just sticking to their guns.” That’s how I felt at the time.
What happened to me is still being repeated here and there. Hanwha had already replaced pitcher Butch Smith earlier this season after a similar tug-of-war. LG, which won the regular season this year, is also struggling with the return of ace Adam Plutko. Plutko, who suffered a hip injury, seemed to have reached the end of his rehabilitation when he pitched out of the bullpen at Jamsil Stadium in late September, but then went down again. The team and fans are impatient because it could disrupt their “fall baseball” strategy.
A nuance of frustration can be seen in a recent interview with LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop, who had been pushing for his return. Having experienced the long-term absence of pitcher Nick Kingham when he was manager of the SK Wyverns (now the SSG Landers) in 2020, Yeom seems determined not to miss a moment of consideration or determination this time around. From the perspective of the goal of winning and the principles of running a team, it makes sense.
It’s understandable that a foreign player would think, “How will I be compensated if I overdo it and can’t play next season?” For him, his body and health are the top priority. Winning is not an absolute value, and it’s not very convincing to say to him, ‘Why don’t you think of the team’ when he can’t sign a contract the following year if he gets injured.
When you frame the issue of body and health as having a bad work ethic (work ethic, integrity in what you do), you remove any room for compromise. People’s judgments and behaviors are a combination of many factors. When you blame one cause, even a character and disposition problem, feelings are hurt and hearts are left behind, which is why a leader’s message needs to break down each step and carefully pull out the cards one by one.
Things get even worse when it becomes public and misunderstood. Recent social media (SNS) posts by Plutko’s family show the vitriol from some fans. To them, family is far more important than baseball, and if they feel their family is being hurt and attacked, their self-protection will be strong.
I look past that and think it’s a difference in perspective, a difference in culture. It’s not that one side is right and the other side is wrong, it’s just that both sides have their standards and they have things to defend. What do you guys think?
I think we shouldn’t make one side “bad X”. You need to look at the person as a multi-faceted person, both before and after the injury. From the team’s point of view, it’s a business, and of course, team officials and fans are human beings too, so it’s more hurtful to feel like we’ve been betrayed because we cared about him, but it can also be a sunk cost to think that we ‘gave him a lot’, including goodwill and consideration. It doesn’t work with foreign players who are looking for a contract.토토사이트
Before we get into the nitty gritty, we need to fix the system. At the league level, foreign player contracts need to be fine-tuned to resolve disputes and misunderstandings. In this case, a clause should be added that says, “The final medical opinion will be determined by a specific hospital in Korea, and if it is refused, the remaining salary will not be paid”.
Communication and mental management of foreign players should also be further refined. There are often problems with the communication between managers and coaches and foreign players when dealing with injury issues. There is a lack of empathy. Words cut out of context and disguised as instructions become knives. Is there anything to fix before we blame people?
Jongmoon Kim, Korean National Coach Association Certified Coach coachjmoon Gmail
Jong-moon Kim is a former JoongAng Ilbo reporter who served as the front office of the NC Dinos baseball team from 2011-2021. He took over as manager of the ‘last place’ team in late 2018 and led them to their first championship two years later. He is currently a Korean Coach Association Certified Coach (KPC).