Recently, South Korean baseball has been embarrassed at every international tournament. The team finished with a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and was eliminated in the group stage of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) earlier this year.
The Hangzhou Asian Games is a chance for the team to make amends. At the Asian Games, baseball teams have won gold in five of the last six editions, from Bangkok 1998 to Jakarta-Palembang 2018. Only in Doha 2006 did the team settle for bronze.
South Korea is the favorite to win in Hangzhou, but it’s hard to be too optimistic. Taiwan and Japan are at full strength. South Korea’s main resources have been shaken by injuries and poor performances.
Center fielder Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), the mainstay of the offense, is out with an ankle injury. Outfielder Kang Baek-ho (KT) only returned to the first team five days ago and started playing on the 14th. Left-hander Koo Chang-mo (NC), who was expected to start the most important games, is not even sure if he will remain in the squad. He hasn’t pitched since his injury on June 2. He will take the mound in the Futures League game on June 19. His status on that day will determine whether or not he stays with the national team. Even if he makes a dramatic comeback, it’s unlikely he’ll be a starter. This is especially true since the squad is made up of players under the age of 25 in an effort to generationalize the squad, with three wildcard picks under the age of 29.
All eyes will be on Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha) as the team’s center fielder. The fifth-year senior is having his best year yet this season. Through 17 games, he is batting .298 with a .937 OPS. He reached the 30-homer plateau on the last two days, leading the league.
In a recent interview, Noh said, “It’s very unfortunate that (Lee) Jung-hoo is missing, but we have to get over it,” adding, “We don’t lose games because he’s missing. The players we have now are capable of winning a gold medal.” This will be his first appearance on the national team since his high school youth team. There’s also the matter of the military.
It’s all about how well he can hit in the run-up to the Games. In the middle of last month, Noh was on fire, blasting seven home runs in nine games. However, he cooled off a bit in September. After his home run against LG Electronics in Jamsil on the 2nd, he didn’t hit again until the 17th. 스포츠토토
Noh and the national baseball team will hold their first training session at the Gocheok Sky Dome on the 23rd and 24th. After a practice game on the 26th, the team will train once more on the 27th before departing for Hangzhou via Incheon International Airport on the 28th. The final roster will be announced shortly before the 23rd.
In Hangzhou, the team will open the tournament on Oct. 1 against Hong Kong. On Oct. 2, they will face gold medal contender Chinese Taipei. On Oct. 3, they will play their final group game against the qualifiers. The first and second place teams in the group will advance to the Super Round.