Lotte Captain Shouts ‘No Fear!’, Forgets FA…”Team Performance First, Not Empty Words”

3 minutes, 54 seconds Read

For Lotte Giants captain Ahn Chi-hong, it’s all about responsibility. He’s about to become a free agent for the second time in his professional career, but he’s determined to forget about the rest and focus on the team’s performance.

Ahn Chi-hong gave an official interview to the media in his capacity as Lotte captain immediately after the rainy cancellation of the game against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon on the 30th. He first expressed his apologies to former coach Lash Sutton for the messy atmosphere in the squad after Sutton’s sudden resignation on the afternoon of the 28th.

“I felt very sorry for Coach Sutton because if we had done a little better, this wouldn’t have happened,” Ahn said. “But the season isn’t over yet and we still have a chance to play (fall baseball). I don’t think we should give up until the end. I talked to the players about raising the spirits.”

Lotte is going through a dark period, having failed to reach the postseason for five straight years until last year. The team hoped to make a leap forward this season with a major investment in three outside free agents – catcher Yoo Kang-nam (4 years, 8 billion won), shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk (4 years, 5 billion won) and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (3+1 years, 4 billion won) – but as of Aug. 31, the team is in seventh place with 50 wins and 58 losses, five games behind the fifth-place KIA Tigers.

Lotte’s start to the 2023 season was perfect. Through May, they were 27-17 with a win-loss margin of +10, good for sole possession of third place. They trailed the first-place LG Twins by two games, the second-place SSG Landers by one game, and the fourth-place Doosan Bears by 4.5 games. With cloudy crowds at Lotte’s resignation home games, it looked like the team was going to have a good year, both on the field and at the box office.

However, the deceitful fall began in June. The team went 9-16 in June and 5-12 in July. They held onto the fifth spot until the All-Star break, but the downward spiral continued as they failed to rebound after starting the second half with 12 wins and 19 losses.

Add to that the deteriorating health of LOTTE head coach Larry Sutton. Sutton was sent home after feeling unwell ahead of home games against the SSG Landers on the 13th and KT Wiz on the 27th. Sutton tendered his resignation to the club late on the night of the 27th, and on the afternoon of the 28th, it was officially announced that Sutton would resign and acting coach Lee Jong-woon would manage the rest of the season.

Ahn said he was heartbroken by everything from the team’s poor performance to Sutton’s resignation. However, he emphasized that he must do his best as a professional player until the end, and showed a strong will to not give up the fight for the top five.

“Acting coach Lee Jong-woon told me that I can’t do it alone, so I have to work with the players to get through this. “We had a goal at the beginning of this season (fall baseball), and we still have a chance. I think that if the team’s atmosphere improves, the performance and results will be different.”

He cited “pressure” and “fear” as reasons for Lotte’s rapid decline. After a successful spring camp, the team sweated it out to qualify for the postseason this season, but at some point, the players couldn’t handle the pressure.토토사이트

“At the beginning of the season, I think the players performed well because they were not conscious of the pressure, fear, and consequences. Compared to the good times, the players were not as active as they should have been because they were under pressure. I think there is also a little bit of fear of the outcome,” he said, adding, “It’s too late now, but we still have a chance, so I want to break the fear in the rest of the season.”

He also made it clear that he’s not thinking about free agency. Ahn signed his first free agent contract at the end of the 2019 season, leaving the KIA Tigers after a decade of service, for 2+2 years and a total of 5.6 billion won. Four years later, Ahn’s value is still there. This season, he is batting .297 with 106 hits, six home runs, 53 RBIs, and a 0.778 OPS, and his offense is still above league average.

“For me personally, this is an important season,” Ahn said, “but as a captain, I’m thinking more about the team’s overall plan than my own. I don’t mean that in an empty way, but I want to do my best for the team’s performance until the end of the season.”

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.