Reporter Han Nam-jik = ‘National hitter’ Lee Seung-yeop (47) Doosan Bears coach and ‘the best catcher of the time’ Yang Eui-ji (36) wait for the opening of the 2023 season with the same goal.
Director Lee Seung-yeop gave Yang Eui-ji a bouquet of flowers at the ‘Yang Eui-ji initiation ceremony’ held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on the 11th.
Director Lee Seung-yeop’s expression was brighter than Yang Eui-ji’s.
Yang Eui-ji is the best inauguration gift for head coach Lee Seung-yeop, who is starting anew as a leader at Doosan.
On November 21 last year, before Doosan announced the recruitment of Yang Eui-ji, Doosan owner Park Jeong-won posted a picture on his social network service (SNS), which thrilled Doosan fans.
In the photo, owner Park Jeong-won, manager Lee Seung-yeop, and Yang Eui-ji were laughing together.
On November 22nd, Doosan signed a free agent (FA) contract with Yang Eui-ji for up to 15.2 billion won for 6 years.
Director Lee Seung-yeop and Yang Eui-ji, who exchanged good wishes over the phone after signing the contract, happily took a commemorative photo on the 11th, when the joining ceremony was held.
2023 is the first time Yang Eui-ji and manager Lee Seung-yeop play on the same team.
During his active career, he was never even selected for the national team.
However, the two recognized each other.
Manager Lee Seung-yeop, who faced Yang Eui-ji, the ‘Doosan catcher’ during his active career, said, “When I played as a player, Yang Eui-ji was the most difficult catcher to deal with. In general, if you predict, ‘I will play this kind of ball’, 60-70% were correct. However, Yang Eui-ji was completely unpredictable when he sat behind the home plate,” he recalled. “Yang Eui-ji boldly led the pitcher in the KBO League and international competitions.
Director Lee added, “It is a great fortune to be able to play with such a catcher,” and added, “Yang Eui-ji is a hitter who can stand in the center of the batting line. One less worry when forming the lineup.”
To Yang Eui-ji, ‘player Lee Seung-yeop’ was a respected senior. 안전놀이터
Yang Eui-ji said, “In 2010, when I returned to Doosan after being discharged from the military, I saw coach Lee Seung-yeop, who was playing in the Japanese professional baseball at the time, doing night training at the Miyazaki camp.” I felt a lot. The coach was humble since his active career, and he was a person who sincerely cared for his juniors. He was so great that I couldn’t talk to him (as a catcher) when he entered the plate.”
Yang Eui-ji, who started his professional life by joining Doosan in the 2nd round of 8th round in 2006 with the 59th ranking, has been playing as Doosan’s main catcher since 2010 after completing his military service.
His skills gradually improved, and after Park Gyeong-wan’s retirement, the Korean professional baseball catcher’s match, which was supposed to be Gunung’s, hardened into ‘Yang Eui-ui’s complete victory’.
Eui-ji Yang’s personal career batting average is 0.307, 228 home runs, and 944 RBIs.
Yang Eui-ji played a big role with a batting average of 0.322, 103 home runs, and 397 RBIs during the 4 seasons from 2019 to 2021, when he played for the NC Dinos.
He also became the Korean Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice at Doosan in 2016 and NC in 2020.
Even to Yang Eui-ji, director Lee Seung-yeop was ‘another who seemed to live in another world’.
Coach Lee Seung-yeop hit 467 home runs in the KBO League alone, and built a record-breaking record of 626 home runs in Korea and Japan, including during his time in the Japanese professional baseball league.
He ranks first in career home runs, and also holds the record for most home runs in a single season (56 in 2003).
He also hit decisive home runs in major international tournaments, including the 2000 Sydney and 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Coach Lee Seung-yeop, the best hitter born in Korean baseball, picked ‘catcher’ as the position he wanted to strengthen the most after ascending to the Doosan Command Tower.
Doosan invested 15.2 billion won, the largest single contract in the KBO league, and embraced Yang Eui-ji, who left for NC four years ago.
From 2015 to 2021, Doosan advanced to the Korean Series for 7 consecutive seasons, but fell to 9th place in 2022. Director Lee Seung-yeop and Yang Eui-ji aim for a new leap forward with the power to create.
Coach Lee Seung-yeop said, “I want to advance to the Korean series within three years of the contract period.”
A player can set a goal more boldly than a coach.
Yang Eui-ji said, “I set my goal every year to win. In the last two years, I have not been able to play the postseason. I will step on the fall stage and thoroughly prepare to advance to the Korean Series.”