“Handling outside of power → Sign & trade → .300 batting average.” The 38-year-old Dynasty catcher turned around, and there is no luck that has rolled over

May 3, 2024 | by

A player who was hurriedly brought in is taking the lead in the team and hitting a batting average of 0.300 (hundreds of thousands of dollars). Lee Ji-young (38), who joined the team through sign-and-trade, is leading the SSG Landers to the top ranks by banking on her excellent sense of baseball and stable pitching lead.

Lee Ji-young started as the eighth batter and catcher and recorded one hit and two RBIs in three times at bat in the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League regular season visit game against the Hanwha Eagles at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on the 2nd. Thanks to this, SSG secured a 4-3 and thrilling one-point victory over Hanwha and maintained its fourth place with 19 wins, one draw and 14 losses.

He thus forgets his age. As of the end of the game on Tuesday, Lee had a batting average of 0.304 (31 hits in 102 times at bat), 14 RBIs, 13 runs scored and three stolen bases without a home run, and a 0.333 slugging percentage of 0.324 OPS 0.657. Among the 10 main catchers in the KBO league, he played many games, ranking third in games after Kang Min-ho (39) and fourth in at-bats, with Yang Eui-ji (37) recording a batting average of .300.

On the day, he also demonstrated by his performance why he is a starting member of the team even though he joined the team as the last catcher. In the top of the second inning when the two teams were tying 0-0, he hit Hwang Jun-seo’s fork on the third pitch, which was approaching at shoulder level, and connected it with a timely two-run shot to the right field that passed by the first baseman. It was a moment that highlighted Lee’s strength that she focused on contact without putting much effort.
She also displayed her excellent sense of baseball in the top of the sixth inning, a showdown between the two teams. With runners on the first and second bases with no outs, Lee Ji-young attempted to bunt Jang’s second fastball. Although it floated a little, the catcher, third baseman, and pitcher failed to respond at once as they fell to an exquisite position toward the third base as intended. After buntting, the catcher, the third baseman, and the pitcher all sprinted to the first base without looking back and succeeded in getting on base. Hanwha third baseman Noh Si-hwan chose the third base, but SSG had a chance to hit full base with no outs as pinch runner Oh Tae-gon’s foot touched it first. Then, Choo Shin-soo’s walk was followed, and the score became the final score.

He displayed impressive performance as a catcher. After Oh Won-seok, the starting pitcher, went down early with three runs in four innings, Ko Hyo-joon, Lee Rowoon, Roh Kyung-eun, Cho Byung-hyun and Moon Seung-won each displayed scoreless pitching to lay the groundwork for the come-from-behind victory.

After the game, SSG manager Lee Soo-yong praised Ji-young’s performance, saying, “On the fielder’s side, (Lee) contributed to the attack by contributing additional points with a two-run timely hit and a bunt at the beginning of the game, and played a big role in the victory with a good pitcher lead.”

Lee Ji-young, who had an interview with Soo-hoon, gave credit to her teammates and showed modesty. “I didn’t hit it on purpose, but I was preparing because I heard that Hwang Jun-seo throws a lot of forks during a crisis,” Lee said at a timely hit in the top of the second inning. Regarding bunt in the top of the sixth inning, Lee said, “When Hanwha always does that, a lot of (fielders) come in. So I tried to take it slow somehow, and I think I succeeded because second baseman (Oh) Tae-gon made a good judgment.”

While maintaining a batting average of .300, he said, “The .300 will break quickly anyway,” smiling, “I changed my batting form to not be late for the fastball, but since then, I have maintained my changed batting form for almost six to seven years because I am not late for the fastball and I can see the ball well. I will break the .300, but I am trying to make the team go in a little better direction even if I send more runners so that there is no minus for the team.”

In fact, it was hard to predict Lee’s performance as recently as January. Lee, who joined Samsung as a rookie in 2008, was called the “Dynasties catcher” as he shared Samsung’s four-game winning streak (No. 1 in the regular league + winning the Korean Series) between 2011 and 2014. Even when he moved to Kiwoom through a triangular trade in 2019, he was recognized for his experience by putting his team in the Korean Series twice.

It was in August last year that Lee Ji-young’s smooth career slowed down. At that time, his team Kiwoom prepared for a generational change in preparation for the simultaneous departure of Lee Jung-hoo and Ahn Woo-jin. In the process, Lee Ji-young failed to join the first team after August 8, despite no injuries, and was treated as out-of-strength, which made it difficult to find a team even when the FA market opened.

Against this backdrop, SSG, which had been struggling to negotiate an FA contract with Kim Min-sik, stepped up. Following Cho Hyung-woo, SSG reinforced Shin Bum-soo and Park Dae-on through the second draft of the KBO in November last year, but needed an experienced main catcher. In the end, Lee Ji-young dramatically joined SSG through a sign-and-trade method. Kiwoom first signed a two-year contract with Lee for a total of 400 million won, and SSG has been receiving such a contract as it handed over 250 million won to Kiwoom for the third round of the 2025 rookie draft.

As the SSG also heralded a change of generations, it was not easy to predict Lee’s starting point. However, she quickly settled in the team from the spring camp, and occupied the home ground from the opening game 토토사이트. Rather, she now has to worry about her physical stamina. In an interview before the game on Wednesday, Lee Soo-yong said, “I will flexibly adjust her playing time by playing four days a week and taking two days off.

The 38-year-old veteran, who himself turned the tables on his new team, never knew how to tire. “There are times when the bat is good and sometimes bad, but it’s not as hot as I thought. I think it’s okay (physically) just yet,” Lee said with a big smile.


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