“We will definitely repay the cheers”
Doosan Bears’ Kim Jae-hwan started in left field and batted sixth in the lineup for the team’s seventh home game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Hanwha Eagles at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on 6 June, going 1-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs, one run scored and one walk.
Kim’s hitting peaked in the exhibition games that preceded this season. In 12 games, he hit .387 with one home run, six RBIs and a 1.005 OPS. This continued into the regular season. Kim continued his hot streak with a four-game hitting streak, including his first home run in the opening game against the Lotte Giants.
Ultimately, however, his April performance was less than satisfactory. He finished April with two home runs and a .271 batting average. In May, he went into a severe slump, with a nagging knee injury affecting his hitting. Lee tried to rebound by shuffling the batting order, but Kim struggled to hit .239 in May.
After being used only as a pinch-hitter in the last two or three games against the KT Wiz due to his extreme slump and knee injury, Kim started to make his way back into the starting lineup on the 4th and overcame a five-game hitless streak to lead off Doosan’s 4-1 victory with a home run, his first hit of June.메이저놀이터
Kim Jae-hwan’s bat came alive in his first at-bat. With the score tied at 0-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Jae-hwan lined a five-pitch 137-kilometre fastball from Hanwha starter Jang Min-jae over the first base line. As soon as the ball left his bat, he knew it was a home run, and the 176.1-kilometre fastball travelled 116.8 metres into the stands in right field for a leadoff home run.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, with the score 3-1, Kim Jae-hwan played the role of ‘link’ by drawing a walk off Jang Min-jae, and Doosan extended the lead to 4-1 with Heo Kyung-min hitting a sacrifice fly on the ensuing first and third base chances. Kim Jae-hwan was unable to produce a hit after that, but he did enough to lead his team to victory.
After the game, Kim Jae-hwan said, “I felt sorry for the fans because I couldn’t contribute to the team’s victory as I had been batting badly. It was the same reason why I asked Coach Goto for a special at-bat before training today.”
Kim Jae-hwan continued, “I felt that the coach cared about me when I was not performing well. That’s why I want to get better as soon as possible. My only goal is to be good to the manager, coaching staff, teammates, and fans,” he said, adding, “I will definitely repay the fans who came to the ballpark during the holidays.” He pumped his fists in the air.
Before the game, Lee Seung-yeop said, “We need to get out of our slump with a good batting performance.” Kim Jae-hwan lived up to his boss’s wishes and broke out of his silence. It remains to be seen if he can build on this home run to revive his career.