“If I can get out, I think I should get out”
“The second-year shortstop says he’ll play no matter what. He showed just why he needs to be in the game on Feb. 22 against Hanwha.
Samsung Lions shortstop Lee Jae-hyun came through with a thrilling come-from-behind hit to give his team a 5-3 victory.
It was the bottom of the ninth inning with the score 1-2. Koo Jae-rook led off with a single to keep the last hope alive.
Kang Min-ho and Pirela followed with grounders to second and third. Oh Jae-il was pinch-hitting for Ryu Ji-hyuk. Ryu grounded out to shortstop. It looked like the game was over, but substitute Ha Joo-seok walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Kim Dong-yeop hit an infield single that deflected off the glove of pitcher Park Sang-won, tying the game at 2-2.
With runners on first and second, Lee Jae-hyun stepped to the plate for the fourth time.
“It was a one-run game, so I was concentrating on the whole game, and I was concentrating more on the idea that my brothers hit well in front of me, so (the chance) could come to me,” said Lee, who stretched his arm out to meet Hanwha closer Park Sang-won’s three-pitch, 146-kilometer fastball with the tip of his bat. It was a crown jewel of a hit that landed in the right field seats.
The runners at second and third are safe at home. Williams’ throw to right field sailed over the second baseman’s head, allowing Kim to score from first. 4-2 lead. In the next at-bat, Kim Ji-chan singled to center field, bringing home Lee Jae-hyun. The game was over.
“I wasn’t really looking for a fastball or anything,” said Kim, “I was just trying to hit it in the center of the plate because it was more important to get one run than to hit it hard.”
The only full-time player on the team after 107 games. Despite battling nagging left shoulder pain, he is extending his streak with determination.
“I’m changing the way I’m sliding a little bit,” he said, “so instead of putting my left hand on the ground, I’m putting my left hand on the ground and doing a ventral slide toward the sky. Unless I’m out of (the game), I’m going to keep going.”
He’s 3-for-3 in the second half of the year, and even better in August at 3-for-9. For the season, he’s up to 2.5/1.
He kept hitting harder and harder. I asked for the secret. Senior Koo Ja-uk, the leadoff hitter, came up.
“In the last Pohang game, he said to me, ‘When you hit, you seem to be using too much force from the back (take-back), so try to hit with the feeling that you’re getting rid of the back a little bit,’ and I think that’s what helped me. (When asked if he found his hitting point) I hope it’s like that. I’m always so grateful to him, because he’s the captain and he takes care of me and says a lot of good things.” 안전놀이터
On his defense, he’s getting more comfortable every day.
“I don’t feel like my defense has really improved, but I think I’m a little more comfortable than last year, but I think I made a few mistakes in the second half of the season, so I’m working on it more in practice now.”
Lee Jae-hyun is developing into a big shortstop.
The home run-hitting shortstop is adding defensive stability and clutch ability to his game. Fans are enjoying watching Lee Jae-hyun develop into one of the best shortstops in Korea.