The genius striker who wore the ‘work equation problem’…”More carefully, more seriously” Lee Hak-ju’s pledge has changed a lot

Lotte Giants’ Lee Hak-joo started as shortstop and ninth batter in Game 5 of the season at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 23rd and contributed greatly to Lotte’s “sweeping victory” against KIA in 1862 days.

It was his second time at bat that Lee’s bat exploded. In the bottom of the fourth inning when Lotte was edged 4-2 with one out and no runner, Yoon had a showdown with Kia’s changed pitcher. Yoon threw a 139 kilometer two-seam fastball at the low strike zone with the first pitch, when he scooped up the ball as hard as he could. The ball stretched at a whopping 172.5 kilometers and led to his first homerun of this season over the central fence.안전놀이터

Lee Hak-joo’s bat, which retired after a fly ball to shortstop in his third at bat, heated up once again at the end of the game. Lee entered the batter’s box without a runner with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning when his team was leading 8-4, and this time he swung his bat at the 145-km fastball thrown by Kia Tigers’ Kim Min-jae for the fifth pitch. Lee also flew at the speed of 164.4 kilometers and crossed the fence on the right side of the outfield at Sajik Stadium, before returning.

Coincidentally, Lee Hak-joo’s most recent multi-homer match was Lotte. On March 27, 2019, when he was with the Samsung Lions, however, he drew two arches in a game in 1884 days while wearing a Lotte uniform this time. Based on Lee Hak-joo’s home run, Lotte virtually sealed its victory, and Lotte was in the mood to sweep all three consecutive games against KIA for the first time in 1862 days since April 16-18, 2019. And with this victory, Lotte defeated the Hanwha Eagles to move to ninth place alone, and narrowed the gap with the seventh-ranked KT Wiz to one game.

“Do you know how long it’s been since you hit multiple home runs?” Lee Hak-joo told reporters after the game. “I think it’s the first time since 2019,” adding, “My bat didn’t fit me well from the start of the game, so I focused more on defense. I felt like I had to relieve my stress on defense. Thanks to that, I relieved stress at the batter’s box. I actually played hard without knowing that my first home run was a home run, but I felt good because I passed it. The coach and the batting coaches paid a lot of attention to me, and having a one-on-one lesson with Coach Lim Hoon helped me a lot today.”

Lee Hak-joo has been making so many changes this year that his batting form at every at-bat is different. That’s how much he is having a desperate season. Until he recorded a high batting rate of more than .500 in mid-April, Lee lowered his posture very much and worked without a leg kick with his bat lying down. However, as the feeling gradually declined, he started to do the leg kick again, and in the process of hitting two home runs on the day, he showed the shortest leg kick possible.

In response, Lee Hak-joo said, “I’m always practicing batting with a new mind every day, and the coach ordered a simple way to hit the ball rather than doing a leg kick. It wasn’t done at once, but what I tried to do came out today when I kept trying and batting. I hope we continue to get good results in this direction, as well as when we set the timing with the pitcher today.”

Lee played multiple home runs for the first time in about five years, but it was hard to find a smile on his face. For this reason, Lee said, “Rather than hitting two home runs, I want to become a player who helps pitchers in defense. Today, I felt sorry for third baseman (Kim) Min-sung and sorry for Wilkerson in the middle of the game,” adding, “As pitchers’ pitches tend to increase due to me, I want to become a player who can help pitchers through delicate plays when playing defense.”

Lotte, which had its worst April, has been gradually recovering its winning percentage since May. At the center of the trend is Lee’s role. Of course, there are times when he makes mistakes, but he has been keeping the center infield well. Coach Kim Tae-hyung also praised Lee for his concentration in an interview with reporters before the game. He said, “The team is not doing well because of me. I just try to be a little help to the team win. I never think he is the main shortstop. I have not shown anything, nor have I done anything yet, so I want to run around whenever I have energy left and help my players.”

When he challenged the U.S. stage, he was evaluated as a “special promising player,” and fans had high expectations for Lee Hak-joo even when he returned to the KBO League stage after suffering a serious injury. However, there was something that Lee always followed, so it was a “work-esque” issue. However, this year, Lee Hak-joo is being evaluated as “really different.” It is often said that Lee Hak-joo seriously trained in the second team and the first team, and his attitude toward baseball changed a lot. And that urgency is also evident in the game. In other words, it became altruistic. This could be easily seen by feeling sorry and complimenting his colleagues rather than himself.

When reporters said, “The determination to play in the season seems different,” Lee Hak-joo said, “There is something a little different. Now that I’m getting older and my juniors are coming up, I think I need to play baseball more carefully and seriously. There are still a lot of seasons left, but I think it’s going well so far, and I’ll make sure I don’t let my guard down and work hard.”

After watching Lee Hak-joo interview with reporters, Hwang said, “I’m going to cry. I’m going to cry.” He said he got scolded by Hwang after the game on the previous day.

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