Every Saturday. At the center of the unusual “issue” was Jung Joo-hyun (31-LG). Perhaps it was a series of coincidences. It’s more likely that he became an ‘issue maker’ as a result.
The first issue broke out in the LG-Samsung game in Daegu on Saturday, April 13. It was a tag play at second base in the bottom of the seventh inning. Samsung’s Kim Tae-gun hit a single down the left field line and appeared to be on his way to second base, but his hand was pushed by the glove of LG’s second baseman Jung Joo-hyun, who was trying to tag him, and he missed the base. Jeong was off-center during the tag play and unintentionally forced the ball into his glove. It’s a situation that Kim Tae-gun would have been understandably frustrated with. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) reacted in an unusual way. The next day, the KBO issued a statement saying, “We have instructed each umpire group and video replay center to strictly rule on intentionally interfering with base touches when fielding.” While acknowledging that it was a controversial play, it also meant that they would take a second look at what constitutes a legitimate tag.
The Hanwha-LG game in Jamsil on April 20 was another Saturday issue. LG attacked in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the bases loaded and Shin Min-jae at first base on a 1-0 count, Jeong Ju-hyun, a pinch-hitter, somehow threw his bat at the ball as the Hanwha batter pitched out. After a four-judge panel, it was ruled batting interference, but it was a mistake. The KBO Umpires Committee acknowledged the error in a press release less than an hour into the game. The error was also widely recognized by baseball fans, as it reads, “The batter is out for foul play” in Rule 6.03, “Foul Play by Batter,” paragraph 4, “If the batter throws the bat into fair or foul territory and strikes the catcher (including the mitt) on a third-strike pitch or with a runner on base.
Jeong’s Third Saturday issue erupted during the LG-KIA game in Gwangju on April 27. In the top of the seventh inning, with LG trailing 6-3, Hong Chang-ki batted with runners on first and second. On a full count, Jung was thrown out trying to run to third base. LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop in the dugout immediately reacted by pointing to the third base side with his hand as if to say, “Missed play”.
The third Saturday issue was a little different from the first two Saturday situations. Jeong’s judgment was called into question.
However, it was coincidental that something so loud, which is difficult to happen to a player once, happened to him on three consecutive Saturdays. What’s more, the third Saturday issue was too painful for Jeong. Coach Yeom removed Jung from the first team roster on the 28th.
During a three-game series away from home, there are usually limited instances when a player is removed from the roster and sent to the second team. It’s usually to replace an injured player or to fill an opening in the bullpen or other positions. While he’s not a first-team regular, it’s not uncommon for a 15-year “semi-veteran” like Jeong. In the end, Jeong was reprimanded. It’s more like Yoon was trying to send a strong message to the players and coaching staff with coldness rather than warmth. 안전놀이터
Jeong had recently been performing well as a backup second baseman. On this day, he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning and singled. It was a tightrope walk on Saturday. Jeong missed the tightrope by a hair.
As LG cruises to sole possession of first place in the team standings, it also highlights the second baseman’s conundrum. After a string of foreign bats failed last year, this year, Seo Gun-chang, whom Yeom had hoped to revive, is not the answer and is out of the first team roster. Even with “all-weather” Kim Min-sung playing every position in the infield, LG’s second base offense remains vulnerable. This season, LG’s starting second basemen are batting .245, which ranks eighth.