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The Two Wings of the Seagull

Posted May. 02, 2005 23:55,   


Lotte was nicknamed the “perennial loser” after placing last over the last four seasons. No one expected such Lotte to do so well this season. In fact, over its last eight games, it has posted a 7-1 record, including an amazing six game winning-streak. As of May 2, it is third in the standings with a 15-10 record and only one-and-a-half game behind the leader, Samsung.

Sohn Min-han (30) and Lee Dae-ho (23) are the core of Lotte’s hot start. On May 2, both of them won the April MVP awards in the pitcher and batter categories, respectively, which were awarded by the votes of the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) press corps. The monthly MVP award is a newly created award with a prize of three million won.

Hard Thrower Enjoying Second Heyday-

The ERA of Lotte’s pitching staff, with a starting rotation of Sohn Min-han, Lee Yong-hoon, and Yum Jong-seok, reliever Lee Jung-min, and closer Roh Jang-jin, is 4.13, third only to Samsung’s 3.16 and Doosan’s 3.70. Out of the starters, Sohn is the catalyst behind the team’s rise. During his five starts this season, he has posted a 4-1 record with a 3.24 ERA, becoming the joint leader in wins.

Sohn has been famous since the days he played for Korea University, and in his fourth season in the pros, 2000, he had the most wins on his team with a 12-7 record. The following year, 2001, he had the most wins in the league with a 15-6 record. Afterwards, however, he started to slump after an injury, and in 2003 he was demoted to the minor leagues.

He then became a closer, but when Roh was acquired as a closer in the last half of 2004, he was forced to start, finishing with a 9-2 record and a 2.73 ERA. This year he is having his second heyday.

From Perennial Prospect to Key Batter–

Lee Dae-ho’s new alias is the “solution maker” because of his hot bat in important moments in games. He is so hot that Lotte’s manager Yang Sang-moon asks him to restrain himself, saying, “Don’t be so voracious.”

When he graduated from Kyungnam High School in 2001 and signed up with Lotte, great expectations awaited him. He was seen as the future of the franchise with his immense body and sheer power. Nevertheless, during his last four years in the pros, his hitting average has averaged a meager .258, thus earning the nickname “perennial prospect.”

This season, however, he is a different man. Playing in 24 games, he has a relatively low average of .264, but has five homeruns and 28 RBIs, making him the leader in the RBI category. In a game against LG played on April 29, he his presence known to the home fans by hitting three doubles and seven RBI.

Lee said, “The fact that I am contributing to the team itself makes me happy. My goal this season is advance my team to the playoffs.”

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com