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“It’s so hot, even with sunscreen, my face is burning”

“It’s so hot, even with sunscreen, my face is burning (laughs).”

KIA Tigers outfielder Lee Chang-jin, 32, had a tanned face when we met at Kin-cho Stadium in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, on Nov. 21.

The end of a season and the beginning of a new one. For the backup players, every day is precious. Lee Chang-jin, the most senior player on the roster, is working hard to prepare for a rebound season for the team and a career-high season for himself.

In 104 games this season, Lee batted .244 (66-for-244) with four home runs, 29 RBIs, and a .751 OPS. His overall numbers were down slightly from last season (3-for-1 in 111 games, 104 hits in 346 at-bats, seven home runs, 48 RBIs, 0.776 OPS). But far from being a standout, Lee is an “unsung hero” who scratched an itch for KIA in the offense. In a season that saw him spend a lot of time on the bench, he never stopped doing his job as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner, 바카라사이트 and pinch-defender, delivering results at every opportunity and helping KIA fight for the top spot.

Lee Chang-jin said,

“I’m the oldest player in the camp, but I’m having fun. I think I’m working a little harder because I want to show my juniors a good example,” he said. “Compared to last year, there were a lot of regrets this year, both as a team and individually. Last year, I got a lot of playing time in the starting lineup, but this year, I didn’t,” he said, adding, “I learned a lot about how to handle opportunities such as pinch-hitting this year. As for what he did with his limited opportunities, he said, “Not having a lot of opportunities made me really focus every time I went out there. I wanted to be more persistent at the plate.”

He’s not exactly young.

But still in the middle of the competition. In KIA’s outfield lineup of Na Sung-beom, Socrates, and Choi Won-joon, Lee has to compete with them as well as teammates Lee Woo-sung, Go Jong-wook, and Kim Ho-ryung.

“I don’t think my role will change much next year,” said Lee, “but as the season goes on, you never know when the team will need you, and I need to be well prepared to fill the void.” “If I’m given the opportunity, it’s a really important situation for the team, so I thought, ‘Let’s do it without regrets,’ and as I did, I felt more relaxed and saw the results coming,” he said.

“I want the juniors to be more eager,” Lee said. “If you think about the importance of each at-bat and prepare for it, a good day will come. I don’t think that day has come yet, but I think it will come if I prepare with a good mindset.”

Still, his eyes are set on the ‘One Team’. “I honestly think it’s pointless to set a number as a goal. My biggest goal is to do my part one by one in important situations,” he said, adding, “Even if it’s not necessarily starting, my goal is to produce the results the team wants.”


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