Benching Ha Joo-suk…the 9th-year standby shortstop’s rebellion, not a sparkler

“Honestly, I don’t think of myself as a starter. I think of myself as the guy who goes out first, and I try to help the team.”

The answer is modest, but his performance on the field is anything but. The original starting shortstop, Ha Ju-seok (29), is tied up in the dugout, and veteran shortstop Oh Sun-jin (34) can barely fit in. Shortstop Lee Do-yoon (27), a ninth-year pro, has completely shaken up the Hanwha shortstop competition. For now, it’s not all flash and bang.

In fact, Lee hasn’t really seen the light of day for the past eight years. Despite being drafted fairly high, 24th overall in the third round in 2015, he’s spent most of his career in the secondary. He’s gotten some first-team opportunities since 2021, but they’ve been limited to filling in when there’s a hole somewhere in the infield. He had 56 games and 68 at-bats in 2021 and 80 games and 126 at-bats in 2022, and was gradually increasing his time in the first team.

Then this year, a golden opportunity presented itself for Do-yoon: starting shortstop Ha Joo-seok was suspended for 70 games by the KBO after his license was suspended for a DUI last November. Hanwha was left baffled by the loss of its star shortstop. He was a key part of the team, even serving as captain at one point. They were forced to play half the season without Ha, and put out the fire by signing Oh Seon-jin in free agency for a one-year, $400 million deal.

Lee wasn’t the first to capitalize on the opportunity. He had to wait his turn in the second team for more than 40 days after the start of the season, as Oh first filled in for Ha Joo-seok. Then, when Oh was sidelined with hamstring and jaw injuries, Lee got his chance to play in the first team. Since the end of May, Lee has been gradually increasing his playing time in the first team, and has now held on for 77 days.

This is actually his first full-time season, and he’s still going strong. The hotter the weather has gotten since July, the harder he has swung the bat. In his last 11 games, he’s batting .381 (8-for-21). Ha Joo-seok, back from his DUI suspension, is batting .125 (2-for-16) in the second half, and Oh Seon-jin, back from injury, is batting .250 (3-for-12) in the second half. The manager has no choice but to keep Lee in the lineup.

Lee Do-yoon delivered the game-winning hit against the Doosan Bears on Sunday to snap the team’s four-game losing streak. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lee put runners on first and second with a single by Lee Jin-young and a walk by Jeong Eun-won, but Lee hit a two-run triple down the right field line to make it 5-1. Lee’s extra-base hit was even more valuable considering Doosan scored one more run in the top of the eighth. With his first career triple, the ninth-year pro finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

Coach Choi Won-ho commented after the game, “I would like to praise Lee Do-yoon for his multi-hit game, including a two-run triple in the seventh inning when we needed extra runs.”

Lee Do-yoon said, “I feel like I contributed more to the win than usual. It was my first time batting second, and I’m glad it worked out. I didn’t feel any pressure, and I just thought that my at-bats would come quickly,” he said with a bright smile.

After going through a difficult time, he is now in full bloom, and the better days make him think of his family. His son, Bok-poong, was born on the 3rd of last month, and his father, Lee Do-yoon, is the driving force behind his baseball career.카지노사이트

“When I’m having a hard time, I think about my family and play harder. My wife pays a lot of attention to me, even though it must be hard for her to raise him alone at home, so I feel like I need to work harder. I’m always grateful to my wife,” he said.

At this rate, it’s not going to be easy for Ha to push Lee Do-yoon out. He hasn’t been able to prepare for the season with the team due to his suspension, and it’s hard for him to improve his hitting when he’s not guaranteed to play.

Still, Lee isn’t satisfied or relieved. “Honestly, I don’t think I’m a starter. I try to help the team with the idea that the first player to go out is the main player, and even if I don’t start, I prepare to go out and do my best,” he said, vowing to give it his all every day.

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