The KBO race has moved on from April and May and is now heading into June. However, the Doosan Bears’ starting shortstop position is still a maze. With the return of veteran Kim Jae-ho to the first team, it’s a three-way battle between Park Kye-beom and Ahn Jae-seok, who is gaining experience with the Future Team.
After being dropped from the first team in early May due to poor performance, Kim Jae-ho returned to the first team on May 23, pinch-hitting for the Samsung Lions in Jamsil on May 24, and then starting shortstop in Jamsil on May 25, where he had a multi-hit game and a thrilling two-out, bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Against SSG Landers in Jamsil on the 26th, Kim Jae-ho drew two walks, advanced to third base, and then made a smart play at the plate to complete a double steal. It was so impressive that SSG coach Kim Won-hyung said, “The moment I got the double steal, I thought the game was completely over.”
Kim Jae-ho has been struggling with water in his knee since the end of spring training. Like outfielder Kim Jae-hwan, he has to take care of his knee to play. Nevertheless, the manager’s assessment of Kim Jae-ho after his return from the Future Team is positive. Lee sees that he has gotten lighter.
“I feel like Kim Jae-ho has gained some speed. Before he went down, I thought his body was a little dull, but now he has dynamic movements. He’s a veteran in the double-steal scene, so it was a situation where the opponent could be caught off guard, but he executed the operation very well.”
The Doosan bench moved Lee to second base in early May after utilizing him as the starting shortstop during April. The defensive burden has helped Lee produce better hitting results at second base. Meanwhile, Park Kye-beom took over 안전놀이터 the starting shortstop spot. After showing some decent at-bats early on in his call-up, Park’s hitting has fallen off a bit as of late. Lee doesn’t want to lock him into the starting shortstop spot for now, but wants to keep him around depending on his condition.
“When Park Kye-beom came up to the first team, he performed well, but his pace has dropped a bit. Due to our team situation, we can’t say who our starting shortstop is right now. The player who is in good shape should go first. Right now, Kim Jae-ho is showing good form, so I think it’s right to give him a chance for the time being.”