“They said it was a lot bigger.”
Coach Lee Kang-cheol (57) and Yang Hyeon-jong (35), who came together for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to be held next month, are well known for their special relationship. At the KIA Tigers, he met the pitching coach as a rookie and built a bond, and even after the teams changed, he boasted of a strong relationship while maintaining a teacher-teacher relationship.
Yang Hyeon-jong, who joined as a high school graduate rookie in 2007, learned a lot from coach Lee, who won 152 wins in the KBO League메이저놀이터. He learned the basics of a pitcher as well as the know-how of his professional stance. This has been the foundation for solid growth. The passion of the teacher made Yang Hyeon-jong stand tall as an ace representing Korean baseball beyond KIA.
The two went their separate ways after 2012. Yang Hyeon-jong continued to be the main pillar of KIA, but he said goodbye as manager Lee moved to the head coach of Nexen Heroes. However, the names Lee Kang-cheol and Yang Hyeon-jong always went up and down together. It was as the disciple surpassed his master’s record for most wins.
Yang Hyeon-jong finally surpassed this coach by winning a total of 153 wins against Kiwoom Heroes in Gwangju on June 11 last year. Yang Hyeon-jong said, “The director always tells good stories. Thank you very much,” he said, and director Lee said, “My disciple achieved a valuable record. I sincerely congratulate you.”
The two, who maintained such a special friendship, reunited on the WBC national baseball team. Coach Lee took on the leadership of the national team for the first time, and Yang Hyeon-jong, who was a rookie in 2007, became the core of the mound.
Yang Hyeon-jong, who met at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, USA on the 19th, when the national team was training, laughed and said, “The coach saw me and said, ‘I grew up a lot. I remember staying late with the coach and working out. It was hell training,” recalling the past.
On this day, coach Lee watched Yang Hyeon-jong’s bullpen pitching closely. Yang Hyeon-jong, who checked his condition by throwing 43 pitches, said, “I feel like I have returned to being a rookie. I wonder if the coach watched my pitching happily. Because he is now a veteran. He said with strength, “I will show you a good image as much as you expect a lot.”
Director Lee Kang-cheol, whom I met later, also did not leave out the story of his pupil. Director Lee said, “I am thrilled to be with (Yang) Hyeon-jong,” and “Looking at today’s pitching, I was sure that my pitching was stable like a veteran. I believe that Hyeonjong will lead his juniors well as he is old and has experience.”
Yang Hyeon-jong, who has the most wins in his career with 159 wins, is considered the key to the mound along with Kim Gwang-hyun (35) in this national team. The veteran, who has only played five international competitions, seemed to know his position well. Yang Hyeon-jong said, “I don’t feel bad right now. I plan to prepare as planned through the remaining practice matches. The WBC official ball is also gradually adapting,” he said. “There has been no information about the position yet. Personally, whether it’s the start or the middle, I’m mentally prepared. When given an assignment, he only thinks he will do his best,” he said with strength.