The 7th game of the season between Kiwoom Heroes and KIA Tigers held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 13th. In the first inning attack by the visiting team KIA, hot cheers poured out toward the player who entered as the second batter. It was a welcome reaction to fielder Choi Won-joon (26), who returned to the first team after 18 months of military service (Sangmu baseball team).
Choi Won-joon, who rose to the KIA main outfielder in 2020, faithfully fulfilled the team lead-off mission, recording a batting average of 0.295, an on-base rate of 0.370, 82 runs and 40 stolen bases in the 2021 season before enlistment. He has high-level batting and running. On the 13th, against Kiwoom, he had a successful comeback ceremony, recording 2 hits in 4 at-bats. Since there are currently no seats in the KIA outfield, he will play first base for the time being.
KIA coach Kim Jong-guk looked at Choi Won-joon’s batting training before the game and said, “It seems that his face has become whiter and his body has become thinner than before enlisting. I guess he didn’t exercise hard,” he smiled. It was a joke, but it seemed that he was more concerned about his slim appearance than before. In fact, Choi Won-joon, who maintained a weight of 83-84 kg before enlistment, is said to weigh 81 kg.
Most of the players who lack hitting power try bulking up to increase weight and muscle mass during military service. Eom Sang-baek, a pitcher with the KT Wiz right-handed sidearm, and Ko Seung-min, an outfielder for the Lotte Giants, are representative players who have proven the effect of bulking up.
Choi Won-joon, who only hit 15 home runs in 544 games he played before enlisting, also tried to increase his hitting power throughout last year to make up for his long hitting power. He maintained a weight of 90kg until the beginning of this year. 메이저놀이터
The reason why I tried to lose weight again and went back to the 80kg range was because I thought it was more desirable to strengthen my strengths than to compensate for my weaknesses.
Choi Won-joon said, “I wanted to improve my slugging power before (playing the Futures League this season), but in the end, I thought that the baseball I could play was to run fast and play with spirit. Eventually, I lost weight again,” he explained.
Choi Won-joon also changed his batting posture and mechanics in the Futures League this season. His background is, after all, strengthening his long hitting power. When he returned to his team and played first-team matches, he saw it as difficult to experiment in the real game. Choi Won-joon said, “A few months before he was discharged, he made several new attempts at his plate. He had a great desire to develop further, and it seemed that he would regret it if he stayed the same.”
The bottom line is to go back to your place. He was greedy for producing long hits, but it seemed that his strength, contact ability, would be adversely affected. Choi Won-joon explained, “In the end, in the games played in the Futures League for 2-3 weeks before the discharge, I returned with the same batting method as in the 2021 season.”
During the not-so-short period of 18 months, both the body and technique changed, but it is back to square one. However, through trial and error, he was able to establish the baseball he should pursue.
Choi Won-joon said, “I don’t think it will be difficult to be competitive in the first team just by playing the baseball I want to play. The baseball that needs to be played for the team (KIA) is to use mobility as much as possible,” he raised his voice.
KI A has Park Chan-ho, who became the king of stolen bases (42) last season (2022), and Kim Do-young, who recorded 13 stolen bases even while playing as a backup. Here, Choi Won-joon also added. Director Kim Jong-guk seems to be able to come up with more frequent strategies than before.