Lee Jong-woon, 57, is back at the helm of the Lotte Giants after eight years, albeit on an interim basis. His keyword for the remaining 36 games is “principle.
Ahead of the Giants’ upcoming 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against the Hanwha Eagles at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on Sept. 29, Lee said, “Baseball is a team sport. I set a principle that if there is something that goes against team play, I will not make an exception and will not go with the team for the rest of the season.”
Lee, who was the head coach, took over from former manager Larry Sutton, 53, who voluntarily resigned the day before due to ill health. Lee, who served as Lotte’s head coach in 2015, is the first acting head coach in 21 years since Kim Yong-hee took over in 2002.
As first-team coach, Lee posted a winning percentage of 0.462 (66 wins, 77 losses, 1 draw) in the 2015 season, ranking eighth out of 10 clubs. Led by the foreign trio of Josh Lindblom, Brooks Reilly, and Jim Aduchi, the team finished in a top-five race at the end of the season, but they never got to experience fall baseball and he was fired in October of that year. When asked if having a season under his belt as a first-team coach would help, Lee said, “A lot of time has passed. It doesn’t mean anything that I was a head coach before,” Lee said firmly.
Instead, Lee’s focus is on getting out of the current crisis. Lotte is currently sinking into a deep hole. As of Sept. 29, Lotte has 50 wins and 58 losses (0.463 winning percentage) in 108 games this season. Sitting in seventh place, they are five games behind the fifth-place KIA Tigers. To put it bluntly, the chances of fall baseball are slipping away.
Lee recognizes the dire situation. “All I can say is sorry (to Sutton). “We’re responsible for the way we handled the situation,” he said, “and I’m sure the players will take it very hard because he’s gone.
The immediate task is to end the losing streak. Lotte has lost seven in a row, starting with the game against Gochuk Kiwoom on Nov. 18. Coincidentally, they haven’t won a game since their 15-4 victory over Sasak SSG on Nov. 17, when Sutton’s health issues first surfaced. Lee said, “Right now, the priority is to end the losing streak. We need to focus on ending the losing streak and turning things around,” Lee said.
One of the things he pointed out for improvement was “imbalance. During the seven-game losing streak, Lotte has lost every game by three runs or less. This paradoxically means that the bats are silent on days when the pitchers are doing well, and the mound collapses on days when there is a lot of scoring. “As a head coach, it’s a two-hit imbalance,” Lee said. There is a lack of detail in the defense, and that is disappointing,” Lee said. “The pitching is good,” he said, but left room for a caveat.
“It’s not like there’s no tomorrow,” Lee said, adding, “We have to do our best game by game. I told the players to give their best until the end of the game,” Lee said. “I apologized to the fans. They criticize us a lot when we don’t play well, but seeing them cheering for us made me want to do better,” he said.
“I think the players will feel it more,” Lee said firmly, adding, “If you don’t feel that, you don’t deserve to be a professional.” “Baseball is a team sport. If there is something that is not in line with team play, we don’t make exceptions, we don’t go with them for the rest of the season.” The implication is that the team’s performance, which is needed now, can only be achieved by becoming a “one-man team.
As such, Lee has been working to bring the team together. In particular, he talked to the veteran players, who are the core of the team, and asked them to step up. “In difficult times, the veterans need to play a role,” he said. “We need to communicate in the running part, and the seniors need to show good behavior in the difficult part.” Lee also pointed out the key players for the remaining games as the center players, such as Jeon Jun-woo, Ahn Chi-hong, and Jeong Hoon.메이저사이트
Another keyword for Lee is “stability. First of all, Lee will lead the coaching staff that was formed under Sutton without any changes. There will be no new head coach. “I’ve been on the bench with these coaches for a while, so I think it makes sense to stick with them,” Lee said.
The batting order will also be somewhat stable. Lotte has used 103 different batting orders in 108 games this year, and Lee said the reason for the change is because “the existing players need to do their job.” In the rain-canceled game, Lee lined up Ahn Kwon-soo (left field), Jeong Hoon (first base), Ahn Chi-hong (second base), Jeon Jun-woo (designated hitter), Yoon Dong-hee (right field), Nico Goodrum (third base), Jung Geun-geun (catcher), Noh Jin-hyuk (shortstop), and Kim Min-seok (center field). This gives us a glimpse of what Lee envisioned.