“Young players have to play to their heart’s content without paying attention on the baseball field. I wanted to create that kind of atmosphere and environment.”
The NC Dinos are having an impressive season this year. During the offseason, Yang Eui-ji, Noh Jin-hyuk, and Won Jong-hyun left for Doosan Bears, Lotte Giants, and Kiwoom Heroes through free agency (FA), and the main players suffered from large and small injuries, but did not fall into the lower ranks.
In particular, even though starting resources such as local left-handed ace Chang-mo Gu (strain fracture of the left forearm muscle), Jae-hak Lee (fracture of the metatarsal bone of the left foot), and Sung-young Choi (fracture of the orbital bone) have left their seats one after another, NC is firmly maintaining its top rank. With a record of 44 wins, 1 draw and 42 losses (based on the two days before the game), Doosan (45 wins, 1 draw, 41 losses) finished in 4th place, one game behind Doosan. Although the pursuit of 5th place KT Wiz (45 wins, 2 draws, 43 losses) is fierce, NC is definitely one of the best fighting clubs in the KBO league this year.
The secret to NC’s success was the leadership of Captain Son A-seop’s older brother. NC’s young infielder Kim Han-byeol said, ahead of the game against Changwon KT on the 28th of last month, “Always when the team falls a little or like this, captain (Son) Aseop senior leads the team meeting. He holds the hearts of the players and says to the young players, ‘Thank you for working hard’. The seniors lead us well, so the atmosphere in the team is tight and it seems to be more friendly.”
However, despite these evaluations, Son A-seop was humble. In a recent meeting with a reporter at Changwon NC Park, he said, “In the sport of baseball, of course, there is a high probability that a team with good members can do well. However, when I saw it, baseball didn’t seem to change dramatically with one or two superstars.” It may be possible, but it can produce good enough results.”
Next, Son A-seop said, “Now, the NC juniors are sacrificing a little more for the team in their respective positions, and the minds of thinking about the team are united. Thanks to these parts, it seems that NC is making good grades despite the expectation that it is in the bottom ranks.”
Continuing, he said, “I hear a lot about my leadership, but it is because my juniors have done well. The juniors do not deviate, move well with one goal, and NC is making good grades,” he said. “In the end, it is all thanks to the juniors. They did a good job and brought them together. In addition, the team’s performance was also good, so I, the captain, was in the spotlight. He emphasized again, “Thank you to the juniors.”
Even if he said this, there are many praises for Son Ah-seop’s leadership within the NC club. Above all, the young players, who are the main pillars of the team, are showing 120% of their skills on the field without paying attention thanks to senior players such as Son A-seop.
Son Ah-seop said, “What I’ve felt while playing baseball since my early 20s until now is that I shouldn’t notice it at the baseball field. Young players should play to their heart’s content without paying attention at the baseball field,” he said. In fact, when I was young, I noticed a lot of seniors (laughs), but now, the senior NC players have created an atmosphere and environment where juniors can play and play much more fun. That’s why juniors seem to be following along well.”
Son A-seop, who started his professional life wearing a Lotte uniform in the 2nd 4th round in 2007, has been active in NC since 2022. Until last year, he recorded a batting average of 0.321 (2229 hits in 6949 at-bats), 169 homers, 921 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.855 in 1834 games in his career until last year.
Although Son Ah-seop boasts such a steady performance, he could not laugh as much as the 2022 season. At that time, he achieved a batting average of 0.277 (142 hits in 548 bats), 4 home runs and 48 RBIs in 138 games, ‘unlike Son Ah-seop’.
Son A-seop, who looked back on this time, said, “Not only me, but also many more great players, even American professional baseball major league (MLB) players, have been sluggish for 2-3 years without knowing why. Even among the seniors who were better than me in Korea, there were all sluggish seasons,” he said. “I think this is a process that everyone has to go through. I’m not a god or a machine, but a human being, so there may be other hard times in the future. However, I think it is important how quickly you recover at times like this,” he said calmly.
At the same time, Son A-seop said, “When you play baseball, you can’t always do well. There are a lot of stories about my sluggishness last season, but it’s just a part of my baseball life,” he said. .
Son A-seop, who is indecisive, rebounded this season with a batting average of 0.327, 3 homers, 49 RBIs and 51 points. Recently, it has been somewhat sluggish, and although it has been pushed back by Guillermo Heredia (0.334, SSG Landers) and Yang Eui-ji (0.329, Doosan) in the batting average, it is showing off a high-sensitivity hit enough to be in the lead at one time.
When asked about the driving force behind such an active performance, Ah-seop Son waved his hand, saying, “There is no big secret,” but said, “If I had to pick two things, it was a slight modification to the batting form and an increase in the number of designated hitters this season. Physically it definitely seems to help. I think the fact that those two things matched well is the reason why I am getting good results now.”
Specifically, how did he change his batting form? Son A-seop said, “When I first prepare, I keep my shoulders a lot open in the preparation position. So he got to see the pitcher a little more comfortably. In the past, my stance was a bit wide and my right shoulder was too closed, so it was uncomfortable to see the pitcher. Because of this, it takes less force and seems to fit well,” he said. “The hitting coach pointed out that my shoulders open quickly. He thought about how to fix these parts, so he made this change.”
NC, which achieved the feat of winning an integrated championship for the first time since its establishment in 2020. However, in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, they finished 7th and 6th, respectively, and did not receive an invitation to fall baseball. Son A-seop’s goal was to play his first postseason game at Changwon NC Park this year.꽁머니사이트
Changwon NC Park, which opened in March 2019, has not yet held a postseason game. NC went to fall baseball in 2019 and 2020, but in 2019, when it advanced to fifth place, it lost to the LG Twins in just one game in the wild card match, which was played as an away game, and in 2020, all Korean Series games were canceled due to the aftermath of Corona 19. It was held at Gocheok Sky Dome.
Son A-seop said, “All 10 professional baseball teams have the same goal. In the end, it is the Korean Series victory. The first gateway is the postseason, and of course my goal is to go to the postseason first,” he said. “Although Changwon NC Park is the best baseball stadium in Korea, I have never played the postseason. I have a lot of regrets about that part. This season, I hope that somehow we can enjoy the autumn festival together with