Kang Baek-ho (24-KT Wiz) celebrates his first hit since returning with a grand slam. It was the perfect comeback. It’s also a huge boost for the South Korean baseball team, which is just days away from the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.메이저놀이터
KT Wiz slugger Kang Baek-ho returned to the first team roster on July 5 against Suwon LG. This was 41 days after he was sent down to the second team on July 27. The reason for his demotion was that he was physically and mentally exhausted. Head coach Lee Kang-cheol said, “I think we should give (Kang) Baek-ho some more time. Mental strength is important right now. He needs to be mentally strong before he can train. I’m going to give him time,” he explained.
Since then, Kang Baek-ho hasn’t played much in the Futures League, focusing on his recovery. He played in the Futures League from September 1-3 against Sangmu, batting .250 (8-for-2) with one double, one RBI, one run, two walks and two strikeouts. What stood out was the weight change. He lost so much weight that he looked like half a man.
After returning to the first team, Kang appeared as a pinch-hitter in three games against LG from May 5 to 7 and three games against SSG from May 8 to 10, getting one at-bat each. On the 5th against LG, he struck out, and on the 6th, he drew an automatic walk. He also pinch-hit on the 7th, but only managed to hit a catcher’s mitt.
Kang Baek-ho emerged as the hero on the eighth. With his team leading 9-5, Kang came to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning. With a 2-2 count and seven pitches on the plate, he took a 139-kilometer fastball and smashed it over the right field fence for a grand slam. Baek-ho Kang celebrates his first hit after his comeback with a grand slam. Kang Baek-ho’s grand slam extended the lead to 13-5, and the team eventually won the game 16-7.
However, despite the grand slam, Kang Baek-ho remained out of the starting lineup on the ninth and tenth games, playing only one at-bat each as a pinch-hitter. On the 9th, he came in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 12th inning and popped out to center field. On Tuesday, he pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and drew a walk, but was stranded at second base. He came up to bat in a crucial moment late in the game, but didn’t seem to have enough time to show his full potential.
At the time of his first call-up on May 5, Lee Kang-chul said of Kang Baek-ho, “I’m going to use him as a pinch-hitter for the time being. I’m not thinking about starting him yet. There is still not enough time for him to show his top form.” “First, we will decide whether to start him or not by watching him play every day.” The best-case scenario for KT is that Kang Baek-ho will eventually return to the starting lineup at some point.
Kang Baek-ho has been named to the roster for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. The team will begin its first training session at the Gocheok Dome on March 23. KT has 10 games left before then. If Kang Baek-ho can get more at-bats in those remaining games, it will be a good thing for the Korean baseball team under Ryu Joong-il.