‘Beast Challenge’ with a career-high 2.45 ERA… Why did Lotte’s Pil Seung-jo take the bat in desperation?

‘Beast Challenge’ with a career-high 2.45 ERA… Why did Lotte’s Pil Seung-jo take the bat in desperation?

“Whatever the outcome, I really want to be healthy and happy playing baseball.”
He was smiling throughout the interview, but every word that came out of his mouth was desperate. Lotte Giants pitcher Choi Jun-yong (22) raised his bat in desperation.

It was an unfamiliar sight at a training session for the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on July 7. With temperatures plummeting across the country, the national team’s pitchers did not pitch on the field, instead completing their workout with weight training and light running.

Meanwhile, Choi Jun-yong pulled on a red glove and headed to the back of the batting cage with a bat borrowed from Na Seung-yeop (Lotte). He swung the bat a few times at the practice net from the right field seats and then went into the batting cage for about 10 minutes of practice batting. It wasn’t a spectacular at-bat, but for someone who hadn’t batted in a live game since high school, he hit the ball lightly and far. According to Choi, it was a gesture from national team coach Ryu Jung-il. When Ryu heard that Choi was taking on the beast, he asked to see his hands, and when he saw that he was serious enough to actually have calluses on his hands, he allowed him to take a few practice at-bats.

After watching him for a while, Ryu concluded that his swing and power were good, but he still lacked a lot. But when Choi finished batting, he had a faint smile on his face. “I’ve always loved fielding and hitting since I was a kid,” he said. Even when I was pitching, it was fun when the ball came to me,” he said.

Choi, who graduated from Busan Suyeongcho, Daecheonjoong, and Gyeongnam High Schools, joined Lotte as the first pick in the 2020 rookie draft and has been a stalwart in the pitching rotation. In 190 career appearances, he has a 9-11 record with 48 saves and a 3.50 ERA, including a career-high 2.45 ERA in 47 games this year with a 2-3 record and 14 saves. But this year, after his best season, Choi’s decision to become a closer was made. Injuries have plagued him since his debut.

“Injuries are the biggest reason. “I’ve been sick at least once or twice a year since I was 20 years old. However, I had a great desire to do well by working harder every time I rehabilitated, but when I injured my back in May this year, it was too hard. It was bad at the beginning of the season, and I even felt frustrated because I was practicing and trying so hard.” He shared his frustration. 보스토토 도메인

Most players who make the switch from outfielder to pitcher or pitcher to outfielder do so out of a sense of “grasping at straws,” hoping to continue their careers in the other position. For Choi, however, even as he established himself as a staple in his club’s lineup, the constant injuries wore him down.
When he was injured in May, he went to the club and asked for permission to switch to the Beasts. However, with the recent changes in the club’s leadership, including the manager and general manager, Choi’s pursuit of the Beasts has been put on hold. “I really wanted to pitch, but I kept getting sick. I wanted to play baseball, which I love.


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