After being released by the fifth team of his career, “Journeyman” Lee Sang-ho (34) has decided to extend his contract. As usual in the offseason, he plans to combine personal training and job hunting to find a team to play for next season.
Lee was named to the KT Wiz’s 13-man pending player exclusion list on Nov. 28, marking the first time he has been without a team in a year. After passing KT’s tryout at this time last year, he served as a super backup in the infield and helped the team make a miraculous journey from last place to the Korean Series, but the result was a release notice.굿모닝토토
When contacted by OSEN after the roster announcement, Lee said, “I heard that I was removed from the pending list the day after the second round of the draft.” “I expected a little bit because I was with them until the Korean Series, but I thought that I might leave from the end of the season. I was less sad than other times, but I was still disappointed. I wanted to play with KT again next year,” he said, accepting the reality in a somber voice.
Born in 1989, Lee made his professional debut in 2010 as a Lotte Giants developmental player after attending Daegu Sangwon High and Gangneung Youngdong University. He went on to play for the SK Wyverns and then the NC Dinos before finally making his long-awaited first-team debut for the Dinos in 2013. Although he was mainly used as a backup, he did his part with his reliable defense and quick feet.
Lee Sang-ho moved to the LG Twins in November 2020 via a one-for-one trade for Yoon Hyung-joon, where he played two seasons. In November of last year, he was named to the LG secondary release list along with pitcher Chow Chan and infielder Kim Ho-eun. He served as an emergency backup for LG, batting 2-for-5 with five RBIs in 60 games, and was part of the playoff roster, playing in all four games, but all he got was a release, not a contract extension.
KT was in need of infield reinforcements and reached out to Lee. In mid-November, Lee traveled to Iksan, KT’s second base camp, to try out for the team and was accepted by head coach Lee Kang-cheol, becoming a member of the Wizards.
Lee Sang-ho hasn’t been utilized as much as expected at KT. He played three more games than he did in 2022 (60) with LG, but his at-bats dropped from 72 to 54. He had to travel back and forth between Suwon and Iksan frequently, and his batting average for the season was a dismal 1-for-44 (8-for-54). He made the playoffs and Korean Series roster in the fall, but was not included in KT’s plans for the 2024 season.
However, there are no plans to retire the Journeyman. Lee said, “I’m thinking about it, but I’m still in good shape, and if there’s something that needs me, I want to play more baseball. I don’t think about retirement. I want to play baseball again somewhere,” he said, expressing his desire to extend his career.
Lee plans to combine personal training and job hunting, just as he did this time last year. “Now that I’ve had a break, I think I need to work out,” he said, “and I’ll prepare while building up my body. I’ll also try to contact other clubs directly.”
Although it was only for a year, his time in Suwon was another asset to his career. “I learned KT’s unique training methods and met good managers and coaches, which is also an experience,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that I didn’t win the championship, but I was able to play baseball happily thanks to the support of KT fans for a year. I would appreciate a lot of support wherever I go in the future,” he said, thanking the KT team and fans.