The main character who will continue the ‘red line’ of the Doosan Bears’ first designated shortstop is infielder Ahn Jae-seok. Ahn Jae-seok, who grew up with his teammate Kim Jae-ho as a role model from an early age, has come to a dream-like reality of playing together with his idol on the same team. Ahn Jae-seok, who has been trying to steal everything from Jae-ho Kim since his rookie days with ‘Hope for Jae-ho’, can’t believe the reality of breaking up with Jae-ho Kim soon.
At the beginning of this season, Ahn Jae-seok was somewhat behind in the shortstop competition. Lee Yoo-chan took the position of starting shortstop and started from the opening game and got a chance to start regularly. Although he survived in the first team with his backup role, Ahn Jae-seok seldom got a chance to show his true value.
However, a golden opportunity came to Ahn Jae-seok. On April 16, against the LG Twins in Jamsil, Ahn Jae-seok hit opposing pitcher Jung Woo-young with a 1-run turnaround and a timely hit to score the final goal that day. After that, he succeeded in stealing second base and continued the embers of a large number of runs.
In the game against KT WIZ in Jamsil on April 21st, Ahn Jae-seok played in the middle of the game as a replacement for Lee Yu-chan’s knee bruise, and showed his performance by recording an RBI, a sacrifice fly ball, a double, and a goal. In the game against KT on the 22nd, he took the opportunity to start as a shortstop and contributed to the team’s 5-1 victory with 2 hits in 3 at-bats, 1 home run, 1 RBI and 1 run. The season’s beastly home run, which was stolen from opposing starting pitcher Bo Schulser, was impressive.
Ahn Jae-seok, who we met after the game, said, “Even on days when I couldn’t start, I prepared steadily on the bench. He tried not to be impatient. Rather, it seems to have been effective in increasing the intensity of training compared to when he was starting out. In the previous two seasons, he had not been able to continue the flow from the beginning to the end, so this year he thought he would slowly increase his performance from the off-season. Fortunately, good results came out, but the only goal is to continue a good flow like today.”
From spring camp, Ahn Jae-seok, under the guidance of coach Lee Seung-yeop and hitting coach Koji Goto, tried to create a concise hitting point.
Ahn Jae-seok said, “Since spring camp, the manager and coaches have pointed out about his overswing. When he doesn’t feel good at hitting, he puts too much effort into it, so I wish he could hit it a little shorter. He practiced a lot to keep the bat head from turning too much. In the past, if I used my strength from behind, now I try to use my strength only at the right hitting point. He continued to fail, but it feels like good hitting results are gradually coming out in that direction.”
Ahn Jae-seok has been showing his side as an infield multiplayer since last year, playing not only his main position, shortstop, but also third baseman and second baseman. However, it is the shortstop position that Ahn Jae-seok must eventually take over. He is also the first designated shortstop following Jaeho Kim. 메이저놀이터
Ahn Jae-seok said, “It is true that the shortstop position is the most comfortable. Mentally, he is like that because he has accumulated the most defensive experience as a shortstop, whether during his school days or after joining the pros. Still, in the current situation, I need to learn to play not only shortstop but also other infield positions in order to have more opportunities to play. That could be my forte. It’s not bad to practice in various positions,” he nodded.
This season is Kim Jae-ho’s last FA contract season. While focusing on the role of supporting his juniors, it is highly likely that Kim Jae-ho will decide whether to retire from active duty after the end of this season. Of course, Ahn Jae-seok, who wants Jaeho, wishes that the time he spends with Kim Jae-ho will be longer.
Ahn Jae-seok said, “I really feel like I’m missing out on everything from senior (Kim) Jae-ho. I remember that from when I was a rookie, Jaeho sunbaenim came to me first and told me that he was worried that I would be uncomfortable. Now, I tell them to let me know first, and even when I play catch, I always try to follow them with my body. I want to spend as long time as possible with senior Jaeho. Also, I don’t know when he will retire, but I hope I can be there with him at the retirement ceremony.”
During spring camp this season, Ahn Jae-seok revealed his goal of playing as the starting shortstop for the second consecutive year. Although that goal was not achieved, Ahn Jae-seok has learned how to look farther and wait with more thorough preparations, as befits his third year at the club. I wonder if Ahn Jae-seok will not miss this opportunity he got after a short wait.