“I’ve never heard that before.”

Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea. The Kiwoom Heroes lost 3-14 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a special match of the 2024 MLB World Tour. The difference between the KBO and Major League Baseball is obvious. It was a matchup between the weakest team in the KBO and the strongest team in the Major Leagues. Moreover, Kiwoom was missing several starters, while the Dodgers had their best lineup. The result was somewhat expected.

The only bright spot for Kiwoom was that ace Ariel Furado struck out the world’s best baseball player, Shohei Ohtani (30), twice, both times on high fastballs. It’s interesting to note that Furado is known to be a nemesis of Ohtani, having faced him in the major leagues in the past, going 2-for-11 with two walks and three strikeouts.

However, manager Hong Won-ki said in the official postgame press conference, “I’ve never heard that before.” He didn’t have the data to show that Furado was strong against Ohtani. At the time, Hong said, “The Dodgers must have been jetlagged and heavy. I’ve never heard of such a thing before, even though it was a friendly game.”

In fact, manager Hong Won-ki can’t afford to be happy that Furado struck out two against Ohtani. On the day, Furado gave up four runs on five hits (one homer) in four innings with three walks and four strikeouts. Striking out Ohtani twice is a lifelong regret, but the actual poor pitching performance weighed heavily on Hong and Kiwoom’s minds as the season opened.

The situation is so bad that Kiwoom may have to exaggerate a bit and entrust Hurado with the mound this season. The starting pitching staff is completely devoid of any calculable power. New foreign pitcher Enmanuel de Jesús will have to prove himself from now on. Jang Jae-young has a nagging elbow problem and will be closed in April. Veteran Jung Chan-heon is also rehabbing from back surgery.

In the bullpen, Cho Sang-woo and Kim Jae-woong are solid options. However, Kim Jae-woong will be joining the military in June. Kiwoom has taken chances on young pitchers in recent years, and the 2024 rookie draft is loaded with promising talent, but no one has really stepped up since Ahn Woo-jin emerged as an ace. Ahn will return in September 2025 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, rehabilitation, and a stint as a social service worker.

The batting lineup isn’t particularly strong either, with Lee Jung-hoo (San Francisco Giants) out of the picture. After this season, Kim Hye-sung will also go to the major 토토 leagues. The team has found its next big hitter in Lee Joo-hyung, but even he has never been a full-time starter. The role of veterans like Choi Yong-kyu, Lee Won-seok, Choi Ju-hwan, and Lee Hyung-jong is crucial. The only consolation is that Kim Dong-heon, who has completed his military service as a national team catcher, is growing up.

Kiwoom kicks off the 2024 season with a two-game series against the KIA Tigers on the 23rd. From the first opponent to the last. However, there are practically no teams weaker than Kiwoom this year. However, the team has a history of surprises when expectations are low. The Heroes’ survival DNA is the last thing to expect.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.