“The captain is back. What a great opportunity for me.”
A huge mountain appeared in front of Bae Ji-hwan (24, Pittsburgh Pirates), who should compete for the starting position. However, Bae Ji-hwan, who has just become a big leaguer, said it was an opportunity, not a crisis.
Bae Ji-hwan left for the United States through Incheon International Airport on the 10th. Currently included in the Pittsburgh Major League (MLB) 40-man roster, he will participate in the Pittsburgh camp starting on the 21st as a major leaguer, not as an invited player. There is a good chance of entering the opening entry as well as the camp.
The key is position. Bae Ji-hwan, who was a shortstop at Gyeongbuk High School, is highly likely to play as a super utility in Pittsburgh. Bae Ji-hwan showed confidence in his super-utility role. He said, “I’m not bragging, I’m really comfortable with any position.” If he settles into a super utility role, there is a high possibility that a starting opportunity will come, as Ha-seong Kim did.
However, it is highly likely that he is an outfielder who has a relatively large number of appearances. In the infield, there are many young players that Pittsburgh is focusing on fostering, such as Kibrian Hayes (third baseman) and O’Neal Cruz (shortstop).
The competitor he must overcome to establish himself in the outfield is Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen was the leader who led the team when Pittsburgh went through a dark period and went to the postseason for three consecutive years (2013-2015). The modifier following him who led the Pirates (pirates) was also ‘pirate captain’. His skills have declined over the years, but he is likely to occupy the starting left fielder. The position of center hitter Brian Reynolds (center fielder) is solid. Bae Ji-hwan needs to show a better performance than McCutchen to secure a place in the outfield. 메이저사이트
However, Bae Ji-hwan said, “When I first came to Pittsburgh, I grew up watching Kang Jung-ho and McCutchen. Many people remember McCutchen hitting a walk-off home run and slowly walking home,” he recalled. “The captain is back. It’s a really good opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m a rookie who just debuted. Rather than saying, ‘What will I do this year?’
Pittsburgh has been rebuilding since McCutchen left in 2018. Veterans disappeared from the lineup, and last year, when Bae Ji-hwan made his debut, dugouts were filled with young players who had lived with him in the minor leagues. Bae Ji-hwan said, “To be honest, there was a point where the team atmosphere was distracted because there were only friends of the same age in the team. Like a pot, there was a hot side when you did well, and there was a side where you cooled off when you didn’t do well, but I think the seniors will catch up.”
As Bae Ji-hwan said, ‘captain’ McCutchen’s role is not expected to be small. “If this team were going to lose 100 times in a season again, I wouldn’t want to come back,” McCutchen said at a press conference on his return to Pittsburgh last month. “I think I’ll help this really special team.”
McCutchen was a senior who took care of Kang Jung-ho even when he was playing in the past. When he talked about his relationship with Kang Jung-ho, he said ‘Chingu’ not ‘Friend’, and when he suffered a knee injury, he said, “Please pray for teammate Kang Jung-ho. Let’s heal our friend. I believe he will recover quickly.” As he experienced the golden age of MLB’s overall win rate (98-64) in 2015, he is expected to take the lead in passing on the “winning team mindset” to his juniors, including Bae Ji-hwan.