After three straight losses and two straight wins, the Giants have turned their fortunes around and are headed back to fall baseball. “It would be a shame if Lotte doesn’t go to the fall baseball this year,” said Jeon Jun-woo, 37, Lotte’s most senior player, urging the team to regroup.
Jun-woo started in left field for Lotte’s 11th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against Doosan at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 27, going 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in the team’s 9-1 victory.
Like a fixer-upper for Lotte, he activated the home run gun when he needed to score. Down 2-1 in the third inning, he had runners on first and second with one out. On a 2B-2S pitch count, Jeon took an eight-pitch fastball (139km) from Doosan starter Choi Won-jun and smashed it 120 meters over the left field fence for a three-run shot. It was his ninth home run of the season in three games since the 23rd against Sajik Kiwoom.
After the game, Jeon said, “I don’t hit long balls and home runs just because I want to. It depends on the practice process. During that time, I was checking the ball too much, so my hitting point went backwards, and my timing was late, so I talked to the hitting coaches and moved it forward. I’ve been getting lucky with home runs lately,” he said of his ninth of the season.
Three of his nine home runs came at pitcher-friendly Jamsil Stadium. The gap with his home stadium, Sajik, is only one. “My bat doesn’t have a high trajectory. I send a lot of line drives, so it has to be hit well to go over.” “I don’t think the home run today would have gone over if it was at Sajik,” he said of the difficulty of attacking Seongdamjang.
With the win, Lotte regained the fifth spot in the standings after four days, overtaking KT, which lost to LG in Suwon at the same time. After going 9-16 in June, Lotte slumped to 3-9 in July, but the three-game winning series against Doosan in midweek provided a springboard for a comeback. Lotte formed a three-way tie with favorites LG and SSG in April and May.
Jeon Jun-woo said, “There are so many teams in the middle of the standings that it doesn’t mean much to finish fifth now. We can only do our best in the remaining matches,” said Jeon. “Fortunately, we are a team that thrives in the heat. When it’s hot, 스포츠토토 the players are more focused. I think we will have good results in the second half of the season.”
Jeon’s goal is to regain their top-three form in the second half of the year and earn a fall invitation for the first time in six years since 2017. “The team was so good this year, but we sagged a little bit in the middle, and now we’re starting to climb back up,” he said. “I think it would be a shame if we didn’t make the postseason this season. It would be a shame because we’ve wasted so much. We have to do a good job now to keep the team together so that we can make another run.”