A foreign-born hitter who was on the verge of being dropped has rebounded with a 5-for-2, 4-run homer in seven games with a dedicated coach. How Doosan’s ‘Receiver Magic’ worked its magic on Jose Rojas, 30.
Late last month, Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop decided to call up hitting coach Lee Young-soo from the Futures squad to the first team. Lee said, “Coach Lee Young-soo joined the team from the second team for Rojas. We practiced together in spring training, so he’s no stranger to Rojas. I entrusted him with everything related to Rojas,” Lee explained. To revitalize Rojas, the team hired a tutor.
Rojas, who became a Doosan man for a total of $1 million, struggled mightily until June 28 against the Jamsil NC, batting 1-for-9 with 10 home runs, 27 RBIs and a .678 OPS in 55 games. He made one trip to the second team during the season, but his Futures League performance didn’t turn around either, going 2-for-2 in seven games. Rojas, a spray heater, managed to survive in the first team with 10 home runs (tied for seventh), but he hasn’t hit a home run since June 4 against Suwon KT.
However, Rojas began to spread his wings with the arrival of coach Lee Young-soo. He started his rebound with a three-hit game against Lotte in Ulsan on June 30, then went 3-for-3 with a hit and a walk against Lotte on July 2. He then traveled to Pohang and went 5-for-8 with a home run and five walks against Samsung from April 4-6. A 4-for-4 performance with a walk-off home run against Jamsil Kiwoom on July 7 gave Rojas a 5-for-2 record with four runs, nine RBIs and an OPS of 1.381 over his last seven games.
Rojas has become a completely different hitter with the addition of one coach. “I made the complicated things as simple as possible so that he could shake off his psychological anxiety and be confident,” said Coach Lee Young-soo, who met with him in his bedroom on the seventh. “I gave him carrots to do well from now on, even though it’s been a long season, and then I gave him harsh words to make him feel at ease. I tried to boost his confidence. Now that I’m doing well, I approach him less, but in the beginning I gave him feedback after every at-bat.”
By focusing on the mental aspect over the technical, he helped Rojas get back to his best. “When Rojas came down to Icheon in June, he was full of energy. He played a lot of jokes on me, but when he got back to the first team, he became rigid. I could tell he was under a lot of pressure.” “Now he’s changing his mind and improving his technique one by one. My timing has improved because I’m more relaxed. In the end, I think the biggest problem was psychological, and having a dedicated coach made her feel comfortable that she had someone on her side.”
The coach, who retired from active duty after the 2010 season, began his coaching career in 2014 as the hitting coach for the Commerce Phoenix. For four years until 2017, he was recognized for his leadership by helping prospects who had not established themselves in the first team improve their skills and mentality. During that time, he helped unlock the potential of some of the KBO’s leading hitters, including Han Yoo-seom (SSG), Kim Heon-gon (Samsung), Moon Sang-chul (KT), and Hwang Dae-in (KIA).
Lee returned to the KBO in 2018 as Samsung’s second team hitting coach. He was promoted to first-team hitting coach that year and spent two years in charge of Samsung’s first-team hitting staff before serving as an assistant hitting coach for three years, from 2020 to last year, to support the generational shift in Samsung’s lineup.
Lee, who took over as Doosan’s manager in October last year, personally approached the club about hiring Lee during the coaching search process. Lee is from the same Daegu city as Lee and played with Samsung in the 2013 season.
His experience coaching Jose Pirela at Samsung also helped him with the Rojas Saving Project. “When I was at Samsung and coached Pirela, I realized that it’s important to create an environment where foreign athletes feel comfortable. Part of the reason Pirella failed in Japan is that there is a bit of a culture that doesn’t care about foreign athletes. I try to talk a lot and be friendly with all the newcomers, both young and foreign,” he said.
Rojas was no different. “From my experience as an assistant coach, I realized that in the end, you have to be mentally prepared to use your skills. “Maybe I was too easy on him,” he says, “and he didn’t have that. I was easygoing and playful. Pirela was the same way at Samsung, but when you have that kind of relationship, you can talk about what’s on your mind and feel comfortable playing baseball,” he said.
The coach always emphasizes the mental aspect, even for domestic players. After all, hitting is about the mind. “When you play, you have to be simple. When you change your mind, you change your batting stance,” he said. “When I was a commercial coach, when players left, they would say, ‘Coach Lee Young-soo helped me mentally.’ I taught them technique. I taught them technique, too. In the end, they recognize that mental is important, so they say it first. Hitting is also a human activity, so the mind is important. If you don’t check your mind and only check your form, it’s a vicious cycle.”카지노사이트
For Rojas, the coach also sees “consistency” as the key to a long run. “He’s doing well, but we have to wait and see. “He’s doing well, but we have to wait and see. You can’t get greedy again. You can’t be anxious and not care about the results. He has a lot of good things going for him right now,” he said, wishing Rojas continued success.
After the seventh game, Rojas said, “I’ve been hitting better lately. I’m not giving up at the plate and I’m trying to keep moving forward,” he said, adding, “Coach Lee Young-soo talks a lot about the mental part. It helps a lot, and it’s paying off,” he said, thanking his tutor.