Captain Kim Sun-bin has brought the KIA Tigers together.
KIA lost two wings of its batting lineup last month. Na Sung-beom and Choi Hyung-woo, two of the team’s mainstays, are both out with injuries.
Na injured his thigh while running the bases against LG Electronics on March 19. He was diagnosed with a right hamstring injury after cross-checking with two hospitals. The rehabilitation period was set for 10 to 12 weeks, effectively ending his season.
Choi Hyung-woo ran to first base against KT five days later and tripped over an opposing batter’s leg. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where he was found to have a comminuted fracture of his left clavicle and a damaged scapular joint. He underwent a clavicle immobilization surgery immediately. The rehabilitation period lasted about four months, ending the season prematurely.
A long way to go Kia was left speechless. At the height of the race for fifth place, the last ticket to the postseason, two of their top hitters were out. The entire team was shaken. “The whole team atmosphere sagged,” Kim recalls.
As captain, he couldn’t stand idly by. He called the team together and told them, “We have to play even though our main players are missing. We have to keep playing. It would be a shame to give up here,” he said encouragingly. “After that, the players were more united. I think that’s a big thing,” he said, “They’re more focused on the game. I think the team has become stronger.”
The team pulled together. Na Sung-bum sent a message saying, “Good luck.” Kim Tae-gun had a clever idea. He suggested hanging Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-beom’s jerseys in the dugout every game. The players agreed, saying it was a good idea. They are still together, at least in uniform.
KIA ended a two-game losing streak with a 3-1 away win over KT in Suwon on March 3. They are still in sixth place. It trails fifth-place SSG by 2.5 games. Kim Sun-bin said, “Our goal this year was to play fall baseball longer than last year (when we lost to KT in the wild-card game). “We have a lot of young players and it would be helpful to get experience (in big games),” said Kim. We have a lot of young players and it would be good to get some experience (in big games).”
He also gave advice to his juniors. “Young players often don’t know how to play on the field. I often tell them, ‘Have fun, have fun, and play baseball without looking,'” he said, emphasizing, “If you show that kind of behavior, you will be able to perform better.”
He’s leading by example. In 107 games this season, he’s batting .322 (121-for-376) with 42 RBIs. His batting average with runners in scoring position is even better at .333 (108-for-36). He’s also batting .361 (13-for-36) in his last 10 games. Against KT on Wednesday, he hit the game-winning hit in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the score tied at 1-1 to give KT a 3-1 victory.스포츠토토
Kim said, “There are still games left. I think you can only know the result if you go all the way,” he said, adding, “I will try to do as much as I can.”