He is trying to regain his identity in his new team. Catcher Lee Jung-hoon (29), who newly joined Lotte this year, will challenge again in the ‘Promised Land’.
Lee Jung-hoon, who was nominated by the KIA in the 2nd 10th round of the 2017 rookie draft, showed potential in batting, but was released after the season last year.
In the second group, there was nothing more to show with a career batting average of 3.2%, 348 hits, 30 homers, 198 RBIs, and an OPS of .895 in 375 games. However, in the first team, he recorded a batting average of 2.29 li (36 hits in 157 bats), 2 homers, 17 RBIs and OPS .645 in 61 games. This is a case where the bombing of the 2nd Army did not lead to the 1st Army. And he faced the fate of being released as he was evaluated for not showing competitiveness other than batting at the catcher position.
However, everyone knew that there was a clear advantage in batting, and Lotte brought Lee Jung-hoon as soon as he heard the news of his release. Lee Jung-hoon accepted Lotte’s offer without hesitation and made a fresh start.
Busan and Sajik Stadium are the ‘promised land’ to Lee Jung-hoon. The place where Lee Jung-hoon made his name known was the Sajik Stadium. On May 5, 2021, against Sajik Lotte, he played his first three-hit game in his debut, and on the next day, the 6th, he even pulled out his first home run in his debut. He recalled that time and laughed, “I came to Sajik Stadium for the first time on the day of the physical fitness test, and I felt so good. I always go to the away entrance and then enter the entrance where the home team players used to feel different and I feel very excited.”
It is the process of getting acquainted with new colleagues after joining the Guam spring camp as an advance party. He said, “I talk a lot with the starting players, receive a lot of pitches from the pitchers, and try my best to become friends.”
Right now, Lee Jung-hoon wants to stand out as a catcher. He couldn’t give up the catcher. Lotte also marked Lee Jung-hoon’s position as catcher. “While preparing for catcher, I strengthened my hip joint flexibility and received intensive catcher training,” he said. He emphasized, “As a catcher, I want to quickly wake up the sense of the game. I have to train more unconditionally.”
Lee Jung-hoon said, “I didn’t know that I would be released from KIA.” Last winter was a little confusing, but the reason why Lotte didn’t have a hard time choosing a fresh start was because there was head coach Park Heung-shik, the ‘best teacher’. During the KIA days, Lee Jung-hoon opened his eyes to batting with then-secondary coach Park Heung-sik. Even when he was notified of the release, Lee Jung-hoon contacted him first. Coach Park expressed regret, saying, “I don’t know why Lee Jung-hoon was released,” but he couldn’t hide his joy when he was immediately called by Lotte.
Lee Jung-hoon said, “I often said hello when I was at KIA, and he was my favorite and the best teacher, so I thought it was my duty to say hello.” He told me to improve a lot. Thanks to that, I think my hitting has increased a lot. I always feel grateful.” 안전놀이터
Initially, Lotte thought of Lee Jung-hoon as a left-handed hitter. However, he is currently considering Lee Jung-hoon as the catcher. His hitting doesn’t lag behind, but the defense has to back it up after all. Lee Jung-hoon also knows that fact. He emphasized, “Since (Yoo) Kangnam-hyung came, I think that as a catcher, I must firmly support Gangnam-hyung. To that end, defense is the most important. I will continue to invest a lot of time in defense training.” .
“I want to be remembered by Lotte fans as a player who always plays baseball faithfully.