“I will definitely repay the roar”
Doosan Bears’ Kim Jae-hwan started in left field and batted sixth in the lineup, going 1-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs, one run scored, and one walk in the seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Hanwha Eagles at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Saturday.
Jae-hwan’s hitting peaked in the exhibition games that preceded this season. In 12 games, he hit .387 with one home run, six RBIs, and a 1.005 OPS. This continued into the regular season. Kim continued his hot streak with a four-game hitting streak, including his first home run in the opening game against the Lotte Giants.
Ultimately, however, his April performance was less than satisfactory. He finished April with two home runs and a .271 batting average. In May, he went into a severe slump, with a nagging knee injury affecting his hitting. Lee tried to rebound by shuffling the batting order, but Kim struggled to hit .239 in May.
After being used only as a pinch-hitter in the last two or three games against the KT Wiz due to his severe slump and knee injury, Kim Jae-hwan returned to the starting lineup on the fourth and overcame a five-game hitless streak to lead off Doosan’s 4-1 victory with a home run, his first hit of June.
Kim Jae-hwan’s bat came alive in his first at-bat. With the score tied at 0-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Kim lined a 137-kilometer five-pitch fastball from Hanwha starter Jang Min-jae over the plate. As soon as the ball left the bat, he knew it was a home run, and the 176.1-kilometer fastball traveled 116.8 meters into the stands in right field for a leadoff home run.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, with the score at 3-1, Kim Jae-hwan played the role of “link” by drawing a walk against Jang Min-jae, and Doosan extended the lead to 4-1 with Heo Kyung-min hitting a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat. Kim Jae-hwan was unable to produce a hit after that, but he did enough to lead his team to victory.
After the game, Kim Jae-hwan said, “I felt sorry for the fans because I couldn’t contribute to the team’s victory as I had been having a bad game. That’s why I asked Coach Goto for a special at-bat before training today.”
Kim Jae-hwan continued, “I could feel that the coach cared about me when I was not performing well. That’s why I want to get better as soon as possible. My only goal is to be good to the manager, coaching staff, teammates, and fans,” he said, adding, “I will definitely repay the fans who came to the ballpark during the holidays.” He pumped his fists in the air.스포츠토토
Before the game, Lee Seung-yeop said, “We need to get out of our slump and get some good at-bats.” Kim Jae-hwan fulfilled his manager’s wishes and created a chance to break out of his silence. It remains to be seen if he can build on this home run to revive his career.