[Kespic] From ‘Dae-Go Kim’ to ‘All-Star left fielder’… The miracle begins in the 11th year of debut

A decade ago, a promising outfielder dubbed “Dae-go Kim Dong-ju” was drafted in the second round, 15th overall, and made his debut with the Doosan Bears.

He joins the Bears early on and works through his military issues, but is unable to break through the fierce roster competition and is eventually traded to the NC Dinos after two seasons and then to the KIA Tigers after another season.

Three years with KIA, starting in 2019.

스포츠토토 Without being guaranteed enough opportunities, his batting average remained in the low double digits and his long ball power, which had been an advantage after his injury, disappeared.

Pushed out of the position competition, he seemed to fade into people’s memories as a prospect.

KIA Tigers outfielder Lee Woo-sung Photo: KIA Tigers

A heart of stone.

But then a glimmer of hope returned to Lee’s baseball career.

In the 2022 season, Lee’s improved batting, power, and defence made him a threat for a starting spot.

For the first time in three years, he posted a triple-digit batting average (0.292), and while he hit just one home run, he also recorded his highest on-base percentage (0.375) since his debut.

Waiting in the wings (大器晩成).

After warming up, the miracle began for Lee Woo-sung this season.

In 81 games, 5 home runs, 69 hits, 6 doubles, 0.296 batting average, 0.403 on-base percentage, 0.369 slugging percentage (as of 14 August).

After an injury to star outfielder Na Sung-bum in the first half of the season left a gaping hole in KIA’s outfield, Lee Woo-sung’s sparkling performance filled it.

His batting average has been consistently in the triple digits throughout the season, and his home run arsenal has been reactivated as he regains the long ball power he’s been missing for some time.

From his steady defence to his quick feet and stolen bases, Lee’s Altoran-esque performances have been a lifesaver for KIA, which lost a number of starters in the first half of the season.

And on 15 July, 10 years after his debut, Lee was named to the KBO League All-Star Game roster, to the delight of fans.

Ilshin Woo Ilshin (日新又日新).

One month into the second half of the season after the All-Star break.

In the midst of an epic mid-table race, KIA has seen the return of a number of departed starters, but the position of ‘star left fielder’ Lee Woo-sung remains firmly in place.

Lee Woo-sung is no longer a variable but a constant in the team’s strength.

We look forward to seeing how he continues to move forward, step by step, to write new history for his team and himself.

(This interview was conducted on 8 August)

KIA Tigers outfielder Lee Woo-sung being interviewed by KBC on 8 August.

Q. How are you feeling about your season as a full-time starter?

Lee Woo-sung (hereinafter referred to as Lee): I haven’t thought about being a full-time starter like that yet because there are a lot of games I haven’t played, and there are still a lot of games left, so I just think about the team winning until the end, and I don’t care if I play or not, I just feel a little happy if the team wins, and if we lose, I feel a little bad that day.

Q. How have you survived the fierce outfield competition?

Lee: I think it’s because there’s still a lot of games left and then there’s a lot of good outfield brothers and sisters on the team, so I don’t think I’ve won yet, I don’t think I’ve thought about it even once, not yet.

Q. You haven’t hit a home run since 16 June, is it the heat or your conditioning?

Lee: I don’t know, I’ve never really played baseball with home runs in mind since I was a kid, and I’m not really greedy for home runs, so if there’s anything that I’m conscious of, it’s just that there are times when I have runners on base and I need to score runs to help my team win, so I’m just kind of conscious of that, and the home runs and the long balls, it’s not something that I’ve felt in the 11 years that I’ve been in the pros now that I’m conscious of it, so I’m not conscious of it at all, because it’s just kind of like I’m going to get a good at-bat and leave it to my fate.

Q. You said you’ve been struggling with shingles, does it affect your game?

Lee: It’s fine, and originally, I look at Hyung-woo and think, “That’s really cool,” because he also plays unless he breaks something, but we juniors are learning from him. I’m not sick, I’m just tolerating it, and there’s nothing stopping me from playing, so I’m giving it 100 per cent, so I’m giving it my all right now.

▲KIA Tigers outfielder Lee Woo-sung Photo: KIA Tigers

Q. How do you manage your fitness in the summer?

Lee: I don’t know how to do that, so I don’t know how to do that, but I always have my coaching staff and manager on the sidelines and they say a lot of good things to me, and then personally, at home, my wife cooks a lot of good meals, mostly meat, so I just take care of that, and I take a lot of vitamins and things like that because my wife always takes care of me.

Q. When you’re a backup, it’s hard to keep your hitting touch, and I’m sure it is, but what was your mindset at the beginning of the season or anything like that?

Lee: Well, the manager has been so gracious to me since last year that I’ve had some good days and some bad days, and he’s only sent me down to the second team once, for about 10 days. So when he did that, it put a lot of responsibility on me, and I think that’s why I came out a little bit in the morning, and I worked hard on my repetitions every day, and I thought about the team a little bit when I got my one chance, and I think I tried to make some bats like that for the team.

Q. Do you have any personal goals this season?

Lee: I don’t really have any personal goals, actually I went up there last year and played autumn baseball for the first time in 10 years and it was a lot of fun, so I guess my personal goal is just to get out there and play a little bit higher up.

Q. What’s the team atmosphere like in a tight mid-table race?

Lee: First of all, I would like to thank the coaches for making it bright, and then our captain and seniors, Sung-bum, our older brother, Hyun-jong, and so on, and now my middle-aged friends and so on, so I’m getting along well with my younger brothers and so on, and in terms of the team atmosphere, I’m so grateful that everything is done well from above, so I think we’re kind of following that atmosphere.

Q. To the fans

Lee: We’ve got about 50 games left and we’re going to try to win as many of those games as we can so that we can get to a higher place sooner rather than later and you can smile more, so we’ll do our best to win as many games as we can, thank you.

ProBaseball #KiaTigers #LeeWooSung #Cespic

You can find more KIA Tigers news and player videos on YouTube by searching for ‘Kespik’ and ‘Baseball Personality Dictionary’.

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