‘Batting average of .114’ up to a fatal error, Joo-seok Ha’s second act… Director Choi Won-ho “It’s difficult in the current situation”

 Hanwha Ha Joo-seok (29) went down to the 2nd team due to poor batting and defensive mistakes. 

Before the game against Daejeon Samsung on the 23rd, Hanwha excluded infielder Ha Joo-seok from the first team entry and called outfielder Kwon Kwang-min. 안전놀이터

Ha Joo-seok, who was caught driving under the influence in November last year and was suspended for 70 games by the KBO, was lifted as of June 29. During his disciplinary period, Joo-seok Ha, who did not play any remaining military games and took time for self-reflection, played two futures league games in the 2nd division and was registered for the first team entry of the season on the 11th of last month.

However, he went down to the second team again in the 43rd day due to a crucial error overlapping with a poor batting average of 10% (.114). 

After returning to the 1st team, Ha Joo-seok showed a sluggish batting average of 10.14 (4 hits in 35 at-bats), 2 RBIs, 2 walks, and 10 strikeouts in 25 games, with an OPS of .327. He has played only as a substitute instead of a starter in the last 10 games. In order to strengthen the defense in the second half of the game, he played a shortstop defense, but on the 22nd he made a fatal mistake in the match against Samsung. 

In the ninth inning, the Hanhwa led 2-1 with two out and second base. Samsung’s Ryu Ji-hyeok’s pitcher hit a grounder, and shortstop Ha Joo-seok failed to hit the bounce and dropped the ball. The situation where the game should have ended with a shortstop ground ball became 2 out 1 and 3 base due to Ha Joo-seok’s catch mistake. Samsung made a 4-run big inning in the continued attack and won 5-3 come-from-behind. 

Hanwha, who missed all the victories, fell into a three-game losing streak recently. With a record of 42 wins, 56 losses and 6 draws (.429 win rate), the ranking went down from 8th to 9th. Samsung (46 wins, 60 losses, 1 draw, .434), which won two consecutive victories, fell behind in the win rate without a ride. It was difficult to keep Ha Joo-seok in the first team anymore, who made a fatal mistake in a difficult situation for the team. As Lee Do-yoon was fully established as the starting shortstop, there was no need to rely on Ha Joo-seok. 

In the end, Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho made the decision to go to the second army. In an interview before the match on the 23rd, coach Choi Won-ho said, “I was put in the first team because of the defense, but playing such a game is difficult for the player himself, and I can’t play (Ha Joo-seok) in that situation. There is no reason to be here (group 1) as it is now. The feeling of hitting is also very far away,” he revealed the reason for Ha Joo-seok’s second army. 

Although the mistake served as a decisive opportunity, the fundamental reason for the 2nd Army was the poor hitting after all. Ha Joo-seok played the final game of the season against Changwon NC on October 8 of last year and did not play a real game for more than eight months until the disciplinary action was lifted on June 29. He was allowed to participate in the remaining military games, which were not KBO official games, but only practiced individually as a means of self-reflection. 

He could not ignore the sense of the game and the gap in practice. On the 5th and 6th of last month, in the Futures League match against the Heroes 2nd Division held in Goyang, he played an active role with 6 hits in 11 at-bats, 1 home run, 3 RBIs and 1 walk, and received a call-up to the 1st team, but could not follow the balls of the pitchers in the 1st team. On the 25th of last month, the second game of his return, against Gocheok Kiwoom, he came out as a pinch hit in the 8th inning with 1 out and 1 base, and hit the left at the right time to lay the foundation for a come-from-behind victory, but since then he has not shown a noticeable hit. 

Coach Won-ho Choi said, “I think I need to get my mind right and play a lot of (Futures) games. As of right now (in the 1st team), he goes out for about one at-bat in great defense, but if he does that, he can’t even adjust the sense of hitting. He also trains at Futures, and he has to get a feel for it by constantly playing games.” 

Ha Joo-seok will also participate in the education league to be held in Miyazaki, Japan after the season ends. Usually, young players in their early and mid-20s go to educational leagues to gain experience, and Ha Joo-suk also joins his juniors. He is in a situation where bat speed cannot keep up with fast balls due to an 8-month hiatus, so he plays as many games as possible to find a sense. 

Meanwhile, outfielder Kwon Kwang-min came up to replace Ha Joo-seok. Coach Choi said, “If you look at the Futures team report, there are no players in good condition to recommend on the batting side. I thought Kwon Kwang-min was needed to strengthen the outfield defense rather than the infield,” he explained.

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