The ‘release myth’ that was like signing a free agent ended up on the mound.
Kim Sang-soo (35), a veteran right-hander who established himself as a must-win pitcher as soon as he donned a Lotte uniform this year, came on as a reliever in the bottom of the seventh inning with Lotte leading 3-2 in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against NC at Changwon NC Park on April 8.
But something was wrong. Kim Sang-soo’s pitching was much different than usual. He walked the leadoff batter, Son As-seob, and allowed Seo Ho-cheol to reach base on a wild pitch. He then gave up a straight grounder to Park Gun-woo, throwing a whopping nine pitches in a row.
This was followed by an even more shocking scene. Kim Sang-soo suddenly collapsed on the mound. He grabbed his right adductor muscle and complained of pain. Unable to get up, he was replaced by Shin Jeong-rak. Shin quickly took the mound and got Jason Martin to ground out to first base, but gave up a two-run double to Kwon Hee-dong to tie the game at 3-4. That’s how Lotte ended up losing the game, 3-4.
Kim underwent a checkup at Good Samseon Hospital in Busan on Sept. 9, and it was revealed that he will be out for the time being. On that day, a LOTTE representative said, “After receiving a checkup at the hospital, he was diagnosed with a 1.5-degree tear in his right adductor muscle. We expect him to undergo a rehabilitation period for the next two weeks.”
After being released by SSG at the end of last season, Kim Sang-soo got a chance to make a fresh start with Lotte this season and showed that the ‘King of Holds’ is not dead on the mound. In 63 appearances this year, Kim went 4-2 with one save and a 3.38 ERA in 17 appearances, a remarkable turnaround for a former free agent, especially in the second half of the year when he went 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA in nine appearances. More recently, he went on a 15-game scoreless streak.
Lotte hasn’t given up on the fight for a top-five finish just yet, and they’re keeping their hopes alive with the help of Kim Sang-soo. “I think very highly of Kim Sang-soo,” said Lotte acting head coach Lee Jong-woon. He always prepares well and is an inspiration to the juniors,” while Kim Sang-soo said, “I’m still 36 years old. My 42-year-old brothers also play baseball, and I didn’t want to be told, ‘You’re getting older and your speed has dropped’. So I wanted to show them, and I gritted my teeth and held on,” and said that he worked hard to prove his worth.메이저사이트
But his importance on the Lotte mound was too great. Kim Sang-soo pitched all three games against SSG in Sajik last month from May 15-17, and then took the mound against Gocheok Kiwoom on May 18, giving a “four-game” performance. He also pitched in all three games against KT in Sasik on the 25th and 27th, a ‘three-game streak’. His streak didn’t stop in September either. After pitching against Sasik Doosan on the 4th and Ulsan Samsung Electronics on the 5th, Kim took a day off and pitched against Ulsan Samsung Electronics on the 7th and Changwon NC on the 8th. In total, he pitched four games in five days with two consecutive victories.
Lotte is a team with a large gap between their best and worst pitchers, which means they’ll be more inclined to rely on their best pitchers in seesaw games. Now that they’ve lost their most reliable card in the bullpen, Kim Sang-soo, it’s only going to increase the sense of urgency for Lotte.