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Pro Baseball Rookie Coaches

Posted April. 12, 2004 21:21,   


The 2004 pro baseball season kicked off by greeting an unprecedented threesome of head coaches who are all in their early 40’s. We compare the commanding types of the three men and their three styles: Lotte`s Yang Sang-moon (43) whose team is tied for 3rd place eight games into the season, LG`s Lee Soon-chul (43), and the head coach of Doosan, Kim Kyung-moon (46). Doosan is preparing to soar while currently rated as the league’s underdog.

--Yang Sang-moon`s Winning baseball

This year’s baseballs hot issue is Lotte’s coach Yang Sang-moon. Lotte was shaky in its opening meetings against LG with a record of one draw and two losses, but after getting defeated in the season opener, the team reeled off a four game winning streak and on the 8th, took the team to the top of the standings for the first time in 14 years.

Coach Yang, an ex-pitcher, manages the team from the pitching staff down. His starting rotation is set with five entrenched starters, but his bullpen is a garage sale with reliever Sohn Han-min on the injury list. Filling in, Ga Deuk-yum has participated in six games and Noh Seung-wook, Lim Kyun-wan and Jang Won-joon each have taken the mound in relief five times.

Yang’s batting lineup is fixed except for righty Park Yeon-soo and lefty Kim Dae-ik. The reason for this is that he likes to have his batters settle in and see more pitches instead of relying on pinch-hitting. But 10 sacrifice hits also show that Yang has a specific plan for each hitter.

Coach Yang calls it "Winning Baseball." Even though his tactics hold fewer thrills for fans, the coach has asked fans to be patient as the team tries to dispel the defeatism that has permeated the team’s last place finishes for the past three years.

--Lee Soon-chul`s “Charisma” baseball

Ha Il-sung, a KBS commentator, picked LG to win before the season because injured stars Lee Byung-Kyu, Kim Jae-hyun, and Kim Sang hyun were all coming back this year, and because of coach Lee Soon`s charisma.

Coach Lee, who benched Lee Sang-hoon because of the "guitar incident," seems to be in command of his LG squad. LG showed a concerted team atmosphere with a ground tumbling ceremony when Yoo Ji-hyun drove in a winning point for the Twins on the 11th and when Park Yong-taek launched a game-deciding homer on the 12th.

Sometimes closer Jin Pil-joong will pitch in place of the starting pitcher, but he has also displayed the ability to finish games while facing the opposition’s best hitters.

--Kim Kyung-moon`s Trust baseball

It is true that the previous two coaches mentioned are pushing too hard in the opening part of the season. The elapsed match times of their games as well as their relatively frequent substitution of pitchers proves this.

In contrast to that approach, coach Kim preaches “trustful” baseball. The team doesn’t sacrifice; its hitters always have the green light to swing away. This is illustrated by the fact that the team has no sacrifice hits in its first eight games. Also, the team’s batting lineup is fixed. Due to fatigue, the starting lineup has not been performing optimally, so he arranges schedules for the bullpen pitchers and starters to guarantee them rest.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com