Rocking on an unfamiliar artificial turf…’Steel Magic’ on the test bench defensive baseball

The first match of the finals is one day away. Can the Korean baseball team show the ‘iron wall’ as expected?

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) Korean national team lost 2-4 in an evaluation match against the Orix Buffaloes held at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan on the 6th. This game was the first actual match played by the ‘complete’ national team, which included Ha-seong Kim (San Diego Padres) and Tommy Edman (St. Louis Cardinals). The two players did not participate in the practice match against SSG Landers on March 3 according to the competition rules.

The purpose of the evaluation match is to check the condition. As it is the first time that all the starting players have lost points, the content of the game is more important than the win or loss. But that was the problem. The pitching of the pitching staff was generally good, and the batting line also scored 10 hits. However, the infield team was shaken and recorded 3 errors, which provided an excuse for defeat. Three of the four points Orix made against the Korean national team came from mistakes.

It was more painful because Kim Ha-seong and Oh Ji-hwan (LG Twins) recorded the mistake. Oh Ji-hwan missed Ryoma Ikeda’s normal frontal hit when he was trailing 0-1 with one out and second base in the second inning. He tried to catch it while stepping back, but failed to hit the bounds and dropped it, creating a first and third base crisis. He also dropped the ball in the process of throwing, even when handling a grounder hit by Tatsuya Ashiya, the follow-up. For the national team, Kwang-Hyun Kim (SSG Landers), who pitched in relief, got a hit at the right time, and Joon So-jun (KT Wiz) finished the mound with 3 runs, including 2 unearned runs.

Ha-seong Kim also showed anxiety. He started as a third baseman and started as a shortstop, his main position, from the 6th inning.

It’s not without reason. Kyocera Dome uses artificial turf. The environment is different from domestic stadiums, which use natural grass most of the time. Jamsil Baseball Stadium, home of Oh Ji-hwan, as well as Petco Park, home of Kim Ha-seong, use natural grass. Tucson, where the national team camp was held, also used natural grass. The only time the two recently encountered artificial turf was at the Gocheok Sky Dome, where they trained on the past 2-3 days.

The infield defense is the part the national team looked forward to the most. Both Kim Ha-seong and Edman were finalists for the Gold Glove Awards last year. even left a high praise for the two players, saying, “They can be the strongest defensive line in this tournament.” The same goes for domestic waves. All infielders are Golden Glove winners. Starting with Oh Ji-hwan, they have been regarded as the best defenders in each position for many years.

Since the command tower is coach Lee Kang-cheol, the importance of defense is greater. Coach Lee is the leader who emphasizes the importance of defense the most in the KBO League. You can tell just by looking at the performance of his team, KT. KT finished 3rd in the final with Mel Rojas Jr., who won MVP (Most Valuable Player) with 4 batting crowns in 2020. In 2021, Rojas left, and the team’s home runs plummeted from 163 (2nd) to 106 (7th).

However, KT achieved a combined victory. It was a result achieved through the mound and defense. Instead of Lohas, who has a weak defense, the outfield was built around a wide range of defense, and giving up Kang Baek-ho’s strong dog and placing him at first base led to fewer runs. Last season, KT also ranked second with 96 errors, and recruited veteran shortstop Kim Sang-soo this season to reinforce defense instead of offense. This national team is also composed of the best players who can play defensive baseball for coach Lee Kang-cheol. 세븐 토토

In order for Korea to advance to the WBC quarterfinals for the first time in 14 years, it has to pay ‘work’ with defense. To do so, they must eventually overcome the artificial turf in the first round of the finals and develop a solid defense. The schedule for the first round of Group B, including the matches against Australia and Japan on the 9th and 10th, will all be held at the Tokyo Dome with artificial turf. The national team must show the skills of the ‘strongest defensive line’ so that the baseball of ‘Steel Magic’ can be done at the checkout.

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