LG Twins manager Yoon Kyung-yeop apologized to Myung-geun Park and Jae-won Lee after they failed to make the Korean Series roster.
Selected by LG with the 27th overall pick in the third round of the 2023 KBO Draft, Park is a right-handed sidearm pitcher whose strengths include a slider and changeup along with a fastball with great tailing.
In the first half of the year, he made a big impact despite it being his debut season. In 36 games, Park was the backbone of the LG, going 4-0 with five saves and a 3.25 ERA. At one point, there was even talk of rookie of the year honors.
However, in the second half of the year, he fell into an injury and slump. In 21 appearances, he went 3-3 with a 9.39 ERA in four starts. He ended up with a record of 4-3, 5 saves, 9 holds, and a 5.08 ERA in 57 games (51.1 innings, 31 runs).
Park also struggled in post-season evaluations, and ultimately didn’t make the roster for the Korean Series.
The same can’t be said for Lee Jae-won. Drafted by LG with the 17th overall pick in the second round of the 2018 KBO Draft, he is a naturally gifted long ball hitter who won the home run title in the Futures League in back-to-back seasons in 2020 and 2021. In his first professional season last year, he hit 13 arches to record his first double-digit home run total.
Initially, Lee Jae-won wanted to enlist in the military after last season, but coach Yeom Kyung-yup, who took over at the end of last year, discouraged him, and Lee delayed his enlistment.
This season, Yeom tried to give him a lot of opportunities, but frequent injuries slowed him down. He suffered a side injury before the start of the season and pulled a thigh muscle during the season. Shaken by these setbacks, Lee batted just .214 (24-for-112) with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 57 games this season and will miss the Korean Series. In their place, left-hander Lee Woo-chan and infielder Son Ho-young were named to the Korean Series roster.
The manager expressed special apologies for Park Myung-geun and Lee Jae-won. Speaking before Game 1 of the best-of-seven 2023 KBO Korean Series against the KT Wiz at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Sunday, manager Yoon Kyung-yup said, “The fact that (KT) came up had a big impact on (Lee Jae-won’s) selection. If NC, which has a lot of left-handed pitchers, had come up, I would have won a little more (because Lee Jae-won is a right-hander). But (Lee) Jae-won and (Park) Myung-geun couldn’t beat the coaching staff,” he said.
“I wanted to take both of them, but the power analysis and coaching staff focused on the Korean Series. Myung-geun was really the key card in April, May, and June. “I thought it would be more helpful for him to have the experience of pitching even one inning in a losing game next year, but the power analysis and the coaches only looked at the Korean Series.” He continued, “He played a big role in helping us get to this point, to the Korean Series.
“Myung-geun did well in the season. Jae-won had this feeling that I had to make it up to him because I didn’t let him go to the army, so I tried to put him on the roster somehow, but everyone said no except me. I can’t take him by force,” he said with a bitter smile.
While they won’t be able to play in the Korean Series, Park Myung-geun and Lee Jae-won will receive the same rewards as the players on the roster if they win the title. It’s a nice gesture from LG.
Yoon said, “The club was very considerate. Both players will receive the same championship rings and dividends.” “Myung-geun will accompany me throughout the series. Jae Won-i will be given a break because he has a final training session.”
Meanwhile, LG, which won 86 games, drew 사설토토 two and lost 56 in the regular season, is looking to win its first title in 29 years (1994) and third overall (1990, 1994) in the Korean Series.
LG, which dropped Game 1, 2-3, when closer Ko Woo-seok (1 inning, 1 run) gave up the game-winning hit to Moon Sang-chul in the top of the ninth, will look to bounce back in Game 2 with right-hander Choi Won-tae, who is 9-7 with a 4.30 ERA this year. KT’s starting pitcher will be right-hander William Cuevas, who is 12-0 with a 2.60 ERA.