The Lotte Giants’ 2023 season started with hope and ended with despair. It showed strong performance by leading the league with 14 wins and eight losses through April. In May, the Giants ranked third, two games behind the No. 1 LG Twins and one game behind the No. 2 SSG Landers, raising expectations for their advance to the postseason.
Lotte, however, collapsed sharply with 9 wins and 16 losses in June and 5 wins and 12 losses in July. It failed to rebound with 10 wins and 13 losses in August and accepted its poor report card of seventh place in the final ranking. It bowed its head without receiving an invitation to the fall baseball for six consecutive years from 2018.
However, there were also tangible benefits. High school graduate rookie Kim Min-seok gained valuable experience by playing full-time amid unexpected and rapid growth. Kim Min-seok was a key player with a batting average of 0.255 (102 hits in 400 times at bat) and three homers, 39 RBIs and 16 stolen bases with an OPS of 0.652 in 129 games. Considering that his on-base percentage (0.314) was his debut season, his low on-base percentage was not a bad figure.
The center fielder’s defense was also able to give him a point of acceptance. He used to be an infielder until his high school days, but after joining Lotte, he went through hard work during the spring camp, and immediately became a starting outfielder in the pro league.
Kim returned to rest after the end of the 2023 season and started preparation for the 2024 season early. He participated in the team’s closing camp in Sangdong, Gimhae from mid-October last year, and sweated for about a month while eating and sleeping without commuting.
In the winter, I tried to build a more solid body. I gained more weight than last year. I gained more muscle mass than fat, and I have a more solid physique.
Kim Min-seok seemed to have lost weight because he cut his hair short before Lotte’s first spring camp in 2024, which began on the 1st, but he actually increased by about 4kg.
“I didn’t have much body fat, so I stretched it along with my muscles,” Kim said. “I don’t feel any changes in my body because it’s still early days of spring camp. I don’t plan on bulk-up until I lose my speed. Still, I think I gained some strength compared to last year.”
Unlike Kim Min-seok who consistently played as the main center fielder last year, fierce competition is inevitable this year. Kim Tae-hyung, the new manager at the helm of Lotte in the 2024 season, has been drawing a blueprint to appoint foreign hitter Victor Reyes as center fielder and Yoon Dong-hee as right fielder.
As for Kim, he has to compete with other players for one more left-field seat. Given Kim’s tendency to value defense, he can constantly make his name on the starting lineup only when he makes progress not only in hitting but also in outfield defense.월카지노주소
“I’m a professional, not an amateur, so I think the process applies only to me,” Kim said. “I have to show the results. I want to grow even more than I did last year. Rather than pinpointing batting and defense, I’m trying hard to become a player who understands baseball overall.”
The reason I cut my hair short before I came to Guam was because I wanted to renew my commitment. “Long hair doesn’t mean I can’t play baseball, but I needed motivation. I did it neatly thinking that I would go back to my initial commitment,” Kim said embarrassingly.
“I laughed a lot because of Kim Min-seok’s hairstyle,” said Yoon Dong-hee, who is a year old and close to Kim Min-seok. “But Kim Min-seok looks good with such a nice person and small face. If I had a short haircut like Min-seok, it would have been very serious.”
Kim is also firmly accepting the competition to become a starting member. Although he is a young player in his second year as a pro, he already knows that he can only play when he shows skills ahead of other outfielders.
Outfielder Kim Min-seok, who has been training at the Lotte Giants’ first-team spring camp, which has been underway since February 1 at Dedeo Sports Complex Baseball Stadium in Guam. Photo courtesy of Lotte Giants
“I have to compete. I don’t think I’ll lose (the competition),” Kim said. “I’ll try to win the competition no matter how hard I try. I have to have skills that I can handle no matter who I play. I’ll prepare well for my physical and technical skills as well as my mental strength.”
“Coach Kim Tae-hyung pointed out that the bat tends to come back a little when I hit, but I also tried to supplement it because I felt it a lot last year,” he said, adding, “I trained with emphasis from last year’s closing camp and I’m working on continuity in this spring camp.”