“I had a hard time, I emptied a lot” First RBI since returning, light at the end of the tunnel? “It’s just a bad season, I don’t give up until the end”
The first game of the week against LG at Lions Park in Daegu on May 15.
Samsung Lions first baseman Oh Jae-il (37) batted eighth. This is his sixth time batting eighth this season. It’s still an awkward position to get used to.
He struck out two in the first inning against LG ace Adam Plutko, who returned from a day of rest. Down 0-2 in the bottom of the second, he struck out in his first at-bat with runners on first and third. Struck out again in the 6th inning with runners on first and second against a different pitcher, Ham Duk-ju, who came back from a 4-2 deficit.
K-K-K in three at-bats. I couldn’t help but feel impatient.
Down 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth. The last chance came. LG Park Myung-geun, who was called up for the day, was shaky. He drew three walks to load the bases.
Oh Jae-il came to the plate for the fourth time. With a favorable 3B1S count against the new pitcher, Choi Dong-hwan, he lightly pulled a five-pitch fastball. The hard-hit ball hit the first baseman’s mitt and deflected and rolled into right field. Two runners crossed the plate. A clutch hit to make it 6-3.
“I thought I was going to hit an outfield fly because I was desperate to get one run, but I think it just took a good course and it became a hit. (When asked what she was thinking when the ball hit the first baseman and deflected) I wasn’t even thinking about it, I was just running around trying to get through it. I had two chances earlier that I didn’t capitalize on, so I was kind of hoping to get it done this time, but I’m glad I got the hit.”
The RBI was his first in nine games since returning from the disabled list on April 4 with a hamstring injury.
He also had an RBI single in the previous game.
It was the 15th game of the season against SSG on April 13 at SSG Landers Field in Incheon. Starting in the No. 7 spot, Oh Jae-il faced SSG starter Kim Kwang-hyun in the top of the second inning, trailing 0-1.
He worked into an unfavorable 0B2S count, but on the third pitch, a 135-kilometer outside slider, he let go of one hand and dropped it in front of the right fielder.
Two outs later, it’s an auto-start situation. The ball parallels slightly, but the runner at second is the slow-footed Kang Min-ho. Choi Ji-hoon makes a strong throw to the right fielder’s shoulder and tags him out at home.
The 65th player in history to reach 2,000 career hits almost tied the game. ‘Slow’ senior Kang Min-ho was disappointed with his feet.
“Personally, I don’t have any regrets, I want to be slow, so I’ll be slow. I’m just disappointed that the team didn’t score.”
Since the game against Doosan on Aug. 8, Kang has been hitting consistently in all but one of the five games.
Usually, he says, he can tell when a missed pitch becomes a hit or an RBI. In that sense, it’s a positive sign.
“I’m working hard in practice and I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I still have more than 40 games left, so I’m thinking that I’m going to hit well in the remaining games. I think this season has been a little bit of a bad season for me, but of course I’m not giving up. I’m working hard in practice and working on my swing so that I can do it at the plate.”
It’s been a season of slumps and injuries. It’s been a tough season for Oh, who is responsible enough to be the captain.
“I had a lot of trouble, but when I was injured for a month, I took a break and cleared my mind, so I’m still struggling, but I think I’m better than I was in the beginning, and I think I’m starting to get hits one by one.”
A season where both the team and himself hit rock bottom. What goals does he have for the rest of the season?
“It’s not over yet for the team, it’s not over for me, it’s not over for me, so I think that’s what we owe it to our fans to try to win one more game every single day, regardless of the outcome of fall baseball.”
A veteran senior who is in the midst of an unprecedentedly long slump, but is still working tirelessly on the ball and on the field for the team. The younger players are learning important lessons from them.
“I feel like our team’s strength is getting better and better as we’re turning the tables on the No. 1 team today and winning in tight situations, and I feel like the atmosphere is getting better and better, and the players’ faces are getting brighter and brighter, and it’s good.” 메이저놀이터
A great career as a league-leading left-handed slugger over the past seven seasons doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s just that his early-season slump has been unusually prolonged due to injuries and other setbacks.
But he hasn’t lost his way, and the moment when all the sweat he sheds each day will pay off is getting closer and closer. It’s been a long, long tunnel. Slowly, the end is in sight.