Lotte’s “Busan Seagull” is one of the most recognizable cheers in professional baseball. However, for the past six years, the Busan Seagull has only been heard in the spring and summer. That’s because Lotte hasn’t made it to the postseason in the six years since 2017. 

So last winter, Lotte announced a major rebuild and swept up players in a big StubHub deal. One of the first players Lotte signed was Yoo Kang-nam, who was the first player to open his wallet in a long time. At the tender age of 31, Yoo had logged the most innings without injury in the league. He also had the best framing in the league, making him a favorite catcher for pitchers.메이저사이트

Lotte, which was reeling from the loss of its former franchise star Kang Min-ho to Samsung, approached the catcher as soon as the free agency market opened and was successful in landing Yoo. While the four-year, 8 billion won deal was controversial, all experts agreed that Yoo would be a huge boost for Lotte.

At the start of the season, Yoo earned rave reviews for his command of Lotte’s young pitchers. However, his offense was an issue. In 84 games this season, Yoo is hitting just .229 with 58 doubles, six home runs, 31 RBIs, a .649 OPS, and a .091 WAR. All offensive metrics are career-low. 

What’s more, Yoo Kang-nam was an injury-free outfielder until last year, but has been sidelined by injuries this season. He tore his left adductor muscle while swinging in a game against KIA on March 28, and spent three weeks on the sidelines before returning on March 17.

Currently, Lotte is playing as if they are in the postseason every game. In this situation, the return of the experienced Yoo Kang-nam makes Sutton smile. However, with the form he’s shown so far, even an 8 billion won catcher can’t guarantee a starting spot. 

That’s because the team has two backup catchers, Lee Jung-geun and Son Sung-bin. Recently, Lee has been swinging the bat well and is batting .404 on the season. Although it’s a small sample size, it shows the results of the sweat he shed in Sangdong. Son Sung-bin surprised everyone with his laser fastball speed of over 135 kilometers. With his naturally strong shoulders and ability to hit for power, he has been touted as Lotte’s next great catcher.

Yoo Kang-nam, on the other hand, has yet to show his 8 billion won worth, but it’s time. As of the 20th, Lotte is in seventh place in the league with 50 wins and 53 losses. With only 1.5 games separating them from the top five, they can return to the top five at any time. In such a tight race, the presence of an experienced catcher is crucial. It will be interesting to see if Yoo Kang-nam can lead the young pitchers to a stable mound.

Meanwhile, Lotte fans are anxiously awaiting the day when they can sing the autumn Busan Seagulls at the top of their lungs at Sajik Baseball Stadium, dubbed the “Earth’s Largest Karaoke Bar.

[8 Billion Catcher Yoo Kang-nam Returns from Injury / Gocheokdome = Yoo Eugene-hyung Reporter

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