“It’s not like it was five years ago” First-time All-Star experience→Promise to fans ‘Fall baseball’…the opportunity is finally here
“In fall baseball in 2018, I was a supporting player. Next time, I’ll be the one leading the team in fall baseball.”‘
The promise he made to the fans on the day he enlisted three years ago, with his teammate Kim Min-woo’s “Letter from a Second Class Soldier” playing as the background music, has been fulfilled.
The Hanwha Eagles are on a roll. They’re 9-1 in their last 10 games. They’re shaking up the KBO leaderboards. They are eighth in the standings after five days, but only three and a half games behind the third-place Doosan Bears.
Park Sang-won, 29, is at the center of the surge. He led Hanwha’s hot fall in 2018, going 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA in nine starts. Last year, he made a splash by showing off his exceptional stuff after being released from the military, and this year, he’s been the tailgate keeper for the faltering Hanwha. He’s 4-0 with six saves and a 2.37 ERA.
This year is even more special. He’s making his first appearance in the All-Star Game as a manager’s pick. “I’m just excited and curious,” he smiles. “I don’t know what to expect. I’m going to ask here and there if I should bring everything I’ve been working out with, or if I should just go bareback and throw the ball,” he says, adding that it’s complicated.
“I always take time off during the All-Star break. This year, I wanted to go so badly. I was like, ‘How am I going to get there?’ This is my first and maybe my last chance. I’m going to give it my all.”
For Park, the honor is overwhelming. It was also a gesture from Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho, who asked him to do better this season.
Since his discharge from the army, he has shown off a fastball that is at least four to five kilometers faster than before. His average fastball, which was around 145 kilometers before he enlisted as a social service worker, is now over 150 kilometers. “I changed my mindset,” he says.
“I was happy with my fastball. I was stagnating because I thought it was good enough. I saw other people raising their fastballs and getting better results, but my performance was the same as my fastball. I decided to change my mindset. I trained harder. I reflected a lot on myself, saying, ‘I’m playing in the first team. I’m going to try to do better in the future. I won’t compromise with myself anymore.”
Jung was introduced to baseball lessons by Yoon Hee-sang and Um Jung-wook. “Training with the SSG Landers players made me realize, ‘This is why they are the favorites.메이저놀이터
29 years old this year. He’s now in a position to lead the team and mediate between veterans and rookies. “I have a role that the team wants me to play,” says Park. I’m at the age where I need to mature. I want to be a senior who is respected by the juniors,” he said.
“In 2018, I pitched 69 games and had an ERA around 2, but I wasn’t proud of myself. My brothers helped me get there, not me. I want to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. I don’t want to stop, and I think it’s showing in my performance now. Opportunities don’t come to everyone, but I think it’s up to you to take advantage of them. I think this is the season where I can really challenge myself.”