Veteran outfielder Lee Yong-gyu (39), who is entering his 21st season as a professional player, has expressed his commitment. “I will spend 2024 with the determination that it is really my last,” he said as he was about to retire.라바카지노주소
Selected by the LG Twins in the second round (15th overall) of the 2004 rookie draft, Lee moved to the KIA Tigers in the following year, and saw his skills rapidly develop and became a representative hitter in the league. Lee’s ability to cut a pitcher’s ball into fouls is his specialty. He has been in charge of the national team’s leadoff position for nearly 10 years with his accurate contact ability and fast feet, and contributed to the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics and the 2015 Premier 12.
After his mid-30s, Lee’s baseball life has not been smooth. After the 2020 season, he was released by the Hanwha Eagles, who have been pushing for his team’s rebuilding stance, and signed a contract with Kiwoom for 150 million won to continue his career, but he failed to live up to his name due to injuries and sluggishness in the last two consecutive seasons. He played only 50 games in the 2023 season due to right wrist injury, and his batting average was only 0.234.
“Now, I have to accept that I am old. After the 2023 season when my performance was so bad, I even thought about retiring,” Lee said. “My worries grew even more when I saw my peers who were the same age as me, such as Park Seok-min, a two-time Golden Glove winner, and Jang Won-jun, a pitcher who won 132 games overall, retire one by one last year.”
Lee has come to grips with senior players who were born in 1982 as he watched Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers), Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung Lions), and Kim Kang-min (Hanwha Eagles) in the 2024 season. “How can I stop the passage of time? Still, senior players are continuing their careers. If I have competitiveness, I want to show that I can play for a long time even when I am older. That is also the way for younger players,” Lee said.
Lee is currently engaged in Kiwoom’s first spring camp, which is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Last two seasons have been a long hiatus due to injury. I felt sorry that I couldn’t play full time with my 100 percent condition,” Lee said. “This spring camp will do what I want to do and what I have to do without regret and show a different side to the upcoming season. I know that I can’t do well just with determination and greed. I will prove it with my skills.”
Kiwoom, which was ranked the lowest (10th) last season, saw its flagship hitter Lee Jung-hoo (San Francisco Giants) advance to the Major League Baseball (MLB), and ace Ahn Woo-jin leave for military service, further weakening its power. Prospects for the 2024 season are also not bright.
Lee Yong-gyu, who served as interim captain in August last year when Lee Jung-hoo was sidelined due to injury, should lead his younger teammates as a senior team player again this year. “All 10 clubs will leave for off-season training around the same time. All the team members should take it seriously when they are evaluated as low-ranking players,” Lee said, expressing his belief that “Our team has always done better than external evaluation. Even without saying anything, we will prepare hard to show a reversal.”