Kia ‘forgot how to rest’, Lee Bum-ho was as lucky as Ryu Hyun-jin’s return

In his first interview after returning home, new KIA Tigers manager Lee Bum-ho (42) cited two honors. One was the return of his former teammate and “Korean Monster” Ryu Hyun-jin (37) from the Hanwha Eagles, and the other was meeting the current KIA squad, who have forgotten how to rest.

The KIA players arrived at Incheon International Airport on the afternoon of the 21st after completing their first spring camp at Narabunda Ballpark in Canberra, Australia. It was 23 days after they left for Australia on the 30th of last month. The players were tired from the hour-long flight delay, but their mood was upbeat. After successfully completing the spring camp, which focused on physical fitness and technical training with a three-day training and one-day rest schedule, KIA will depart for Okinawa, Japan, on the morning of March 22 after resting at a hotel near the airport, where they will hold their second spring camp until March 6.

Speaking to the media after his return, Lee said, “I think Gamho has a new and very big task. I know there are a lot of people out there who think KIA is strong because there are so many good players on the team. I’m not without pressure, but I think it’s a great honor to be able to coach when there are so many good players and members,” he said.

At the time of his departure, Lee was the first team hitting coach, not the head coach. However, a day before his departure, former coach Kim Jong-guk was fired. Kia quickly shortlisted Lee as one of the coaches who could understand the team and stabilize the atmosphere. During spring training in Australia, Lee had a video interview with Kia president Shim Jae-hak on March 10 and was named the Tigers’ 11th manager on March 13.

According to the players, not much has changed. In fact, the atmosphere has gotten better. Choi Hyung-woo, the team’s most senior player, told the press, “He told us not to worry about (the outside atmosphere) and to enjoy ourselves on the field. “He said, ‘Let’s just play like we are now,’ and that’s exactly what we did. We had a lot of fun playing baseball. We played in a relaxed atmosphere, and I don’t think that will change when we go into the season,” Choi said, conveying the atmosphere inside KIA, which has changed significantly from when he left the country.

The new foreign pitchers have also quickly melted into this atmosphere. Will Crowe, 30, and James Nail, 31, are two of the newcomers who have been key to Kia’s success this year. “Both of them have very good personalities,” says Lee Bum-ho. I was very impressed with how they got along with the players. Their willingness to learn and the fact that they had a solid routine for throwing the ball made me think that they could adapt to Korean baseball without any problems.”

He also talked about Ryu Hyun-jin, who has been in the news lately. Lee Bum-ho is no stranger to Ryu, having played with him for four years at Hanwha from 2006 to 2009. “I think it’s a great honor for a big pitcher like Ryu to come back to Korean baseball, and I think our hitters can feel a lot when he comes in,” Lee said. “As long as he doesn’t pitch a lot in our games, I don’t think we have to worry too much. I think we have a chance to grow a little bit more as Korean baseball has good 토토 players coming in. They are welcome to come, but I hope they avoid our games as much as possible,” he laughed.

But after talking about Ryu Hyun-jin, Lee bragged about his Kia squad. “Personally, I think the most important thing about being a manager is what kind of players you meet. It’s very different to coach when you have good players and to coach in a difficult situation. I think I start with a little bit of an advantage in that regard, because I have a lot of very good players and I just need to get in step with them. I’m a beginner, but we have a lot of veterans, so I’m going to trust them and have fun with them.”

Lee’s faith is reflected in the players’ willingness to train. In the interviews at the camp, there were many mentions of players wanting to help Lee. “I hope that hasn’t changed now,” Lee said, laughing, “Since I was a batting coach, there was a part of the players that approached me without hesitation. I treated them the same way, and when I became a manager, I did the same thing without playing around.”

Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, and many other players were eager to train, and that was partly intentional. “We have a lot of players who will work out on their own if left alone,” Lee said, “and I think they know that, so if I tell them not to do something, they will do it even more. It’s a good thing, but I will try to understand their personalities and prepare them well for the season.”

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