San Diego Padres Go Woo-suk took the mound against the “Friendly Team” LG Twins and got a home run from Lee Jae-won, but ended the game with a save.

Ko took the mound as the closing pitcher of his team in the top of the ninth inning when the San Diego Padres led 5-2 in the game against LG at the “MLB World Tour Seoul Series Special Game” held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 18th. Prior to the game, manager Mike Shildt himself predicted Ko’s appearance, and Ko gave two strikeouts and two runs in one inning. It was a slightly awkward save.

Having led the LG Twins to a combined victory for the first time in 29 years last season, he challenged to advance to the Major League. In honor of Ko’s wishes, LG fully supported negotiations with big league teams through the posting system, and the deal was signed with San Diego.

Ko Woo-seok signed a two-year contract with San Diego on January 4 that guarantees a total of $4.5 million (about 6 billion won). The salaries for 2024 and 2025 will be $1.75 million and $2.25 million, respectively, and if the option is implemented with the mutual consent of Ko and the San Diego club, Ko will receive $3 million in annual salary in 2026. If the option is not implemented, Ko Woo-seok can become a free agent (FA) for a buyout amount of $500,000. Including incentives from 2024 to 2026, the size of the contract will increase to up to $9.4 million.

For Ko, who is competing for the opening roster, every ball and every game are important. He needs to show his best performance possible. “I think our players will die well on their own,” LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop said before the game, predicting that his teammates might be able to revive Ko’s spirit in challenging the big league.

Manager Yeom said, “Suddenly, baseball cannot change something. In addition, Ko Woo-suk is not a grown player, but a player who is growing. He clearly knows what he needs to prepare for. If you fill those things, grow a little more through the season, and adapt to the Major League, you will be able to prepare with higher expectations for next year than this year. I think that’s the best way for Ko to succeed in the Major League.”

Kim hinted at a head-to-head match. When asked how he would feel about meeting Ko, Kim replied, “You have to hit well. You have to hit hard. You have to hit hard.” When asked if he should let him off, he said, “That’s not how I’m going to make the roster,” drawing laughter.

He added shortly, “But just because we play hard, it’s not a ball that Wooseok can hit easily. And don’t you think Wooseok should practice, too? So I think we can work hard, too.”

Kim Hyun-soo, who played for the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies from 2016 to 2017, is a senior in the big leagues who played in the U.S. Major League Baseball. When asked about his competition in the U.S., he said, “Do you have a different feeling? We have to overcome this. It’s not easy because we have different languages and cultures.”

Kim Hyun-soo said, “But I don’t think Wooseok was the type to pay much attention to such things when he was here, so I think he will overcome it well. I have been under such stress since I was young, so I think he will endure it well,” cheering for his junior’s success.

Ko met Park Hae-min, the leadoff hitter, and soon gave up a hit to the center field on his second pitch. The next opponent was Kim Hyun-jong, a 2024 rookie. Ko threw the first pitch to Kim, but caught a strike with a cutter and a fastball, and threw the cutter again to bring out Kim’s swing and miss, and to eliminate the strikeout.

Then, pinch hitter Lee Jae-won stepped into the batter’s box instead of Kim Hyun-soo, who promised to “play hard” with one out and runners on the first base. Lee Jae-won hit a fastball of 153 km/h from Ko Woo-suk to hit a two-run shot that flew over the left fence. The score narrowed to 4-5 instantly. However, Ko swung and missed Son Ho-young after a full count match, and secured his team’s victory and save by banking on Koo Bon-hyuk’s straight hit to the third baseman.

Meanwhile, San Diego manager Mike Shildt said of Ko after the game, “Of course, I think he wanted to do well. The good news is that Ko is gradually improving his physical condition. I think we need to see how he can be used on the roster before the opening game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.” 안전놀이터

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