“I wonder why I thought this late.”
Hanwha’s closing pitcher Park Sang-won (29) is building his body at Incheon Baseball Academy, which is managed by Coach Eom Jung-wook (42) this winter. It has been quite a long time since he came here with coach Yoon Hee-sang. Jung Woo-ram (38), a senior player with the two SK players, introduced them to the club, and worked as a social service worker in Incheon since December 2020 and frequented the club every day after work. He spent 15 months working there before moving to Seosan in 2022.
“I didn’t know the merits of my fastball, but Coach Eom Jung-wook and Coach Yoon Hee-sang instilled a lot of confidence in my fastball. I also learned how to exercise a lot, and as the pitching mechanism, which I was uncertain about, was clearly established, it became a speedup. Before joining the military, I was a little faster in the team even if I threw that much speed. I wonder why he was satisfied with himself,” Park said.
Park Sang-won, who joined the must-win group of Hanwha’s bullpen since his debut in 2017, was a fastball pitcher who threw fastballs at a maximum of 152 km per hour and 145 km per hour on average. Despite his strong image as a fastball pitcher, his rate of fastballs before joining the military did not exceed 50 percent. He threw more breaking balls, including fork balls and sliders.
However, he changed his mind after meeting Eom Jung-wook, the “original fireballer,” and Yoon Hee-sang, the coach who is good at analyzing pitchers. Notably, Eom Jung-wook threw fastballs twice with a maximum speed of 158 kilometers at the game against Hanwha in Munhak on April 27, 2003, and against KIA in Munhak on June 29, the same year. He was the first fireballer representing the KBO league in the early 2000s as he was marked as 160 kilometers on an electronic display.
Coach Eom Jung-wook, who has failed to display as much talent as expected after undergoing surgery four times only for elbow surgery and shoulder surgery, is running a youth baseball team and academy in Songdo, Incheon after his retirement. Park focused on maximizing the merits of his fastballs, and when he returned to the Hanwha Eagles in August 2022, the ball got faster. After a two-year absence from actual matches, he threw up to 152 km per hour from his return match. In recognition of his pitching power, he was appointed as a finishing pitcher early before the 2023 season.
He started the season late due to a bruise on his arm during the spring camp, but since joining the first team in mid-April, he has secured the closing position from the end of May. His fastballs shined out in the closing positions. His average fastballs pitched 147.2 kilometers in speed on average and his fastball pitching ratio was 54.9 percent, all career-highs last year. He overcame a crisis with his fastballs, recording five wins, three losses, 16 saves with an ERA of 3.65 and 57 strikeouts in 55 games (61 ⅔ innings). Although he had six Blon saves, he consistently played multiple innings with eight in two innings, three in one ⅔, and four in one ⅓, helping to secure the back door for Hanwha.
It was a year when he achieved his dream of becoming a closing pitcher, but he was disappointed in the end of the season. He displayed stable performance with an earned run average of 2.44 points through Sept. 18, but collapsed with 15 runs (10 earned runs) in six ⅓ in the last nine games. “I agonized over why it was bad at the end of the season. It got even worse as I tried to change and supplement bad things. In the first half, I played against the batter by maximizing my strengths, but in the second half, I tried to defend myself too much, and I think I should throw the closing pitcher as a finishing pitcher. The first batter should start the game immediately, but when it is difficult, I must clearly remove it. If I fail to read such situations properly when I am old now, I have learned baseball wrong,” Park said. “I will also pay attention to operational aspects through last year’s finishing experience.”
With the introduction of the automatic ball determination system (ABS), the number of pitches that fall below such as fork balls and curves is expected to rise in the new season. Park Sang-won, who likes to play folk balls, is still strongly believed to come first. “The basic of a pitcher is his fastball. If a pitcher has more fastballs and is controlled, the likelihood that a batter will be tricked by the forkball increases. For pitchers who are good at folk balls, the forkball is more powerful when the batter’s heating point is brought forward when the ball is maintained to a certain extent. “Even for a forkball pitcher, I think fastballs are the first,” he said, reiterating the importance of fastballs, adding, “I continue to think that we should not lag behind as the team has more fastballs. I also want to increase my speed. I can’t throw 160 kilometers, but I plan to throw it a little harder on days when I’m in good condition so that I don’t affect the game.” 마카오토토
In 2024, which will be his first full-time year, Park also wants to achieve the final success of his rule. It will also be the last season he will spend at Hanwha Life Eagles Park before the opening of the new stadium in Daejeon in 2025. “I was not cool at the time, but I thought it was natural that the stadium was full of fans,” said Park Sang-won, one of the few players who experienced Hanwha’s fall baseball in 2018. When his team was at the bottom of the standings, I thought, “That was when I was happy.” “As this year is the last season at the Eagles Park, I want to show good performance as I did then,” Park said. “Autumn baseball is already six years ago. I think we should do it again now. If we do well, professional baseball will become more fun again.” In 2018, Hanwha sold out its 20 home games, the most, and attracted a total of 734,110 spectators. It remains a historic season as it exceeded the average of 10,000 spectators (11,196) for the first home game of the team.