▶ Click here for a larger view
Professional baseball coach Lee Kang-cheol (55) of kt wiz was synonymous with persistence during his days as a player.
As the best underhand pitcher, he led the heyday of the Haitai Tigers with an ups and downs, including 10 wins and 100 strikeouts for 10 consecutive years.
Director Lee Kang-cheol’s philosophy of emphasizing the value of consistency did not change even after starting his leadership career.
I looked forward to seeing the strengths of the players rather than their weaknesses, and hoped that the players would continue their careers for a long time.
It was the same even after taking office as KT’s manager. When coach Lee Kang-cheol discovered the strengths and potentials of not only players from his team but also players who had been neglected by other clubs, he immediately promoted and took advantage of them.
After the 2019 season, Lee Bo-geun, who was evaluated as an out-of-power pitcher for the Kiwoom Heroes, was drafted in the second draft, and Yoo Won-sang, who was released from the NC Dinos, was brought in.
The two players served as key resources for the kt bullpen in the 2020 season, contributing to the team’s advancement to the postseason.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol paid attention to pitchers who had been neglected by other teams even ahead of this season.
Ahn Young-myeong, who was released from the Hanwha Eagles, was brought in, and Park Si-young, who was evaluated as a mere pitcher in the Lotte Giants, was traded.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol told reporters who were tilting his head, “We evaluated the two players as having a competitive stance and a ball that can be clearly communicated.”
The manager perfectly saved both players.
Ahn Young-myeong raised the weight of the two-seam fastball instead of the four-seam fastball, and Park Si-young improved her skills in the direction of maximizing her main weapon, the forkball.
The two players, who no one paid attention to, established themselves as kt’s central pitchers after the start.
Ahn Young-myeong recorded an ERA in the 3-point range in April, and then appeared in 14 games in May and pitched an ERA of 1.38.
Park Si-young’s performance was also great. He recorded a two-point ERA for the first time since his professional debut.
The stronger the back, the tighter the back door.
Core bullpen sovereignty and Kim Jae-yun were strong and led the fight for the kt rankings.
kt recorded 23 team blow saves last season, the most among 10 clubs, but this year it decreased to 16.
It’s not just the bullpen that coach Lee Kang-cheol has been paying close attention to.
With his charismatic leadership, this manager raised the skills of foreign pitchers Audrey Samer Despaine and William Cuevas.
In fact, both players had question marks attached to them.
Despaine has an advantage as an inning eater, but has a weakness in that he has a lot of ups and downs due to his weak emotional suppression ability.
He had a 15-8 record last year, and he had a 4.33 ERA with a lot of banging games.
Cuevas is also a sensitive player. He also posted a four-point ERA last year.
Whenever coach Lee Kang-cheol judged that the two players were emotionally shaken, he gave appropriate stimulation.
Manager Lee didn’t change until Despaine threw 125 pitches after getting 14 hits in 7 innings against the Doosan Bears on the 9th.
At that time, Despaine caused controversy by throwing a silent pitch in several matches, but manager Lee Kang-cheol decided to lose and sent a strong message to Despaine and set his discipline.
If necessary, he touched the player’s heart.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol approached Cuevas sincerely and comforted him when he suffered a personal life in the middle of the season.
Cuevas’ father was in a critical condition after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), and coach Lee Kang-cheol quietly excluded Cuevas from the first team entry, apart from the ranking fight.
He also asked reporters not to publish the background of the cancellation of the entry so that Quevas would not be shaken.
Even after Quevas returned from the funeral, he gave him time to organize his mind and was considerate.
Cuevas was deeply moved by the comfort of coach Lee Kang-cheol, and played an active part after returning.
Although the weight was noticeably reduced due to severe heartache, he reciprocated the consideration of coach Lee Kang-cheol and his teammates by clenching his teeth and throwing the ball.
It was the same in the first place match (tie breaker) held at Daegu Samsung Lions Park on the 31st.
Cuevas, who threw 108 balls against the NC Dinos on the 28th, returned to the mound as a starter in three days and fought hard.
He threw 99 balls in 7 innings and blocked it with 1 hit, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts and no runs.
A series of processes became a source of solidarity for kt. kt experienced the thrill of winning the first regular season since its foundation in ‘steel magic’.
Copyrights ⓒ Yonhap News. Unauthorized reproduction and redistribution prohibited