Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bae Ji-hwan (24) cheered for Kiwoom Heroes’ Lee Jung-hoo (25), who is trying to reach the major leagues.
“I had a hectic season all year, but now that it’s over, I’m disappointed and looking forward to next year,” Bae said in an interview after returning home from Incheon International Airport on Nov. 11, concluding his second season in the major leagues.
Bae, who made his big league debut last season, batted 23-for-33 (77-for-334) with two home runs, 32 RBIs, 54 runs scored, 24 doubles, and a .608 OPS in 111 games this season. While his bat was a bit of a disappointment, he played like an Altoran on defense and at the plate. Kim Ha-seong (San Diego) set the single-season record for stolen bases by a Korean player with 38 this year, but Bae Ji-hwan surpassed Choo Shin-soo’s 22 in 2010 to become the second most stolen bases by a Korean player in a single season.
“My goal this year was to play full-time, but I was injured in the middle of the season, so it’s unfortunate that I didn’t achieve my goal,” Bae said. “Next year, I want to play until the end without getting injured, but I’m satisfied that I stayed in the major leagues. It’s not easy for a rookie to play so consistently in the major leagues,” he reflected on the season.
The KBO’s best hitter, Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), will be heading to the major leagues in a post-season post. Bae Ji-hwan, who said, “I wish there were more Korean players in the major leagues,” said, “Honestly, there are times when I feel marginalized in the major leagues. I hope (Lee) also comes to the major leagues with a good contract,” said Bae, who cheered for Lee to reach the major leagues.
Bae emphasized the difficulties of the major leagues, saying, “Even players who haven’t been to the major leagues know that it’s hard and difficult.” “But Jung Hui-hyung is already the best player in Korea, so he deserves to challenge the major leagues. I don’t have anything to say about baseball. Rather, I have to learn from him.” He continued, “I think it would 안전놀이터 be great if he came to our team. I’m used to playing with Koreans, (Kang) Jeong Ho-hyung, (Choi) Ji Man-hyung, and (Park) Hyo Joon-yi,” he added.
“I think my ankle is better now that I’m not playing,” said Bae, who suffered an injury late in the season. “I think I need to prepare well during the winter so I can play well until the end of the season next year. I want to stay in the major leagues next year, and I want to play fall baseball regardless of my performance,” he said, wishing the team good luck.