“Coke. That’s the name that greeted me when I first came to KIA.”
There is a name that comes out in common when you ask the foreign players of the KIA Tigers who have just joined the team, ‘Who is the player you got to know the fastest?’ His nickname is Coke and his name is Yoo Seung-cheol (25).
KIA’s new foreign pitcher Adonis Medina (27) in the 2023 season said on the 18th (Korean time) at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, USA, “I became close with Yoo Seung-cheol. He asked me to call him Coke. When I first came here, I said welcome. They did and welcomed me. Coke in Spanish means ‘tail’, so it was amazing.”
Sean Anderson (29), who had an interview afterwards, also said, “Yang Hyeon-jong knew, and Lee Eui-ri and Coke (Yoo Seung-cheol) talked to me a lot, so we became close.”
The nickname ‘Cola’, taken from a famous beverage brand, has its own history. Yoo Seung-cheol revealed the origin of the song, “During spring camp in 2017, I ate a lot of cola while eating meat, so Pat Dean and Hector Noesi started singing it.” As it is a drink loved all over the world, the effect was good. However, it is a nickname that would not have been called much if it had not been for Yoo Seung-chul’s consideration for foreign players in unfamiliar places.
Yoo Seung-chul said, “Foreign players have to live in a foreign country, but they seem lonely, so I want to help them. That’s why I usually approach them first. The nickname ‘Coke’ is easy to remember and easy to call, so that’s how I introduce myself. That’s how I got along with most of the foreign players. ” he smiled.
For foreign players, the grateful teammate ‘Coke’ with good affinity is also a hidden card for coach Kim Jong-guk and KIA for the 2023 season. Yoo Seung-cheol, who graduated from Hyocheon High School, is from the first round of the 2017 rookie draft. He is the owner of a fastball with the highest fastball speed of 151 km/h.
However, he has not left a clear mark on the first team stage so far. He debuted in 2018 and recorded 4 wins, 3 holds, 1 save and an average ERA of 5.63 in his career until last year. His control was disappointing, as shown by his 47 walks in 70⅓ innings. Last season, which was highly anticipated after his discharge, was also mentioned as a candidate for starting 5 in spring camp, but in the regular season, he went back and forth between the first team and the Futures League.
The expectations of his command tower remain the same. Coach Kim Jong-guk prepared a few hidden cards in case Yang Hyeon-jong (35) and Lee Eui-ri (21) could show poor condition due to the selection of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) team at the beginning of the season. One of them was Yoo Seung-cheol. Coach Kim said of his future plans, “(including two foreigners) I think we will rotate a five-man starting rotation with Lim Ki-young, Yoon Young-cheol, and Kim Ki-hoon. Yoo Seung-cheol and Yoon Joong-hyun will also prepare for longer innings.” 스포츠토토
Even if he can’t join the starting lineup, his value is high as a right-hander who throws more than 150 km per hour, which is one of the few in the bullpen. In the KIA, right-hander Pil Seung-jo Jang Hyeon-sik (28) is scheduled to return in late April or early May this year after receiving surgery to remove bone fragments and bone spurs in his right elbow after the end of last season. Until then, one right-hander Pil Seung-joo is a must.
Manager Kim said, “Right-handed pitchers need to work harder.” “(Yu) Seung-cheol did really well in the beginning of last season. I want to go. It’s a process of growing, and I have high expectations from Seungcheol.”
He hopes that he can prove his worth as a player of Yoo Seung-cheol, who has been in his 7th year as a pro. Yoo Seung-cheol said, “I want to be recognized as a baseball player, not as a baseball player close to foreign players. I want to do well this season and become a player recognized by fans and clubs.”