America -> Korea -> Japan -> America, Why did the ‘New Ace’ travel tens of thousands of kilometers?
This is the history of the young ace of the Samsung Lions, Won Tae-in, over the past two months. He was willing to travel tens of thousands of kilometers to do his best as a member of his team and national team to get better at baseball.
It was an opportunity for Won Tae-in to learn anew about baseball and to devote himself once again. 메이저놀이터 Through this, he is determined to grow further and become a leading player in the change of the mound generation in the national team.
Won Tae-in made his professional debut in 2019 with the first Samsung nomination, and from the first year he played 112 innings, showing his potential with 4 wins, 8 losses, 2 holds, and an average ERA of 4.82. After recording 6 wins and 10 losses in 2020, the following year, in 2021, after 3 years of joining, he finally recorded 26 games, 14 wins, 7 losses and an average ERA of 3.06, and was reborn as a domestic ace.
The future of Wontaein, who showed such rapid growth, seemed to be more brilliant. However, last year, as an individual, I had a somewhat disappointing 2022 season. Although he pitched 165.1 innings, his most since his professional debut, his winning streak dropped to 10 (8 losses) and his ERA dropped to 3.92.
Therefore, as an individual, Won Tae-in responded to the invitation of Audrey Samer Despine, who played for kt from 2020 to 2022, at the recommendation of his close friend Joon So-jun (kt) after the season, and trained together in Miami, USA. In particular, at Despine’s training ground, I was able to access various know-how while training with Sandy Alcantara (Miami), the 2020 National League unanimous Cy Young Award winner, and Aroldis Chapman (Kansas City), who had a high reputation as a fastball finisher.
After a long-distance trip from Korea -> Miami -> Okinawa -> Korea, Won Tae-in’s expression was bright and full of determination as he joined the national team’s Arizona camp, which took 18 hours, including transfers.
Won Tae-in, who I met at Incheon International Airport before departure on the 14th, smiled brightly, saying, “I am tired of living abroad, but I am thinking positively because I am traveling for a long time due to good things.”
In just two months, Won Tae-in’s passport left a dense record of his trips to and from the United States and Japan. In addition, after completing the camp training in Arizona, USA, they will move to Osaka, Japan on March 4th and Tokyo, Japan on March 7th to complete the WBC official schedule. It could be the most traveled of all time.
However, Won Tae-in said, “It seems that I have already adapted by moving a lot. After giving a philosophical answer, saying, “I will have to adjust to the jet lag even when I go to the US, but since I have already done it once, I think I will be able to do well without much difficulty.” I felt it once, so I think I need to get enough sleep and recover my energy again whenever I have a break.”
In the WBC, Won Tae-in is considered as an ace candidate to lead the new generation along with Park Se-woong and So Joon So-jun. That’s why it’s more important to adapt to the WBC competition. How is the adaptation of the official ball for the WBC tournament, which uses balls from the KBO League and other major leagues, going?
Won Tae-in said, “I felt while training that the direct ball was definitely a little more difficult than the KBO official ball. I think I need to pay more attention to the control part at the Arizona camp,” he explained. “In a way, the WBC official ball seems to have a little more change and is more difficult to control, so there is a difference in that part.”
Rather, there are parts where the official ball is helpful for pitching. Won Tae-in said, “In a way, the changeup has a slightly slippery throwing part, but the use of the more slippery WBC official ball seems to work in a good way.”
In particular, Korea will face Japan, Australia, the Czech Republic and China in the group stage matches of the final round. In addition to the Czech Republic and China, which are weak in terms of power, they must catch Australia, the opponent in the first game, which is not easy. That way, the burden of the match against Japan, which is considered one of the strongest forces in the tournament, can be reduced.
Lee Kang-cheol, coach of the WBC national team, said, “We selected players with breaking pitches and pitches that fall into the bell.”
Won Tae-in, who has the best changeup in the league, was also fully aware of the thoughts of the national team coaching staff. Won Tae-in said, “It seems to be such a tournament that we need to increase the proportion of changeups again. Last season, I increased the weight of the slider, but I think we should use the best changeup more than the slider in the WBC.”
Just before the national team was summoned, the generational change became a big issue. Regarding this, Won Tae-in said, “It would be nice if young players go out and perform well in international competitions, but just the thought of veteran seniors supporting them is a great source of strength for young players.” “I think that presence is really necessary. That’s why good seniors are (reliably) supporting us, so if we compete with our spirit, I think there will be good enough results.
At the same time, in this tournament, the WBC, which has a pitch limit, is highly likely to pitch regardless of position. There is a high possibility that Won Tae-in, who has mostly played as a starter since his debut, will come out as a relief pitcher.
Won Tae-in said, “It’s true that I haven’t played many games with the bullpen, so in the past I’ve had difficulties. But I think his physical condition is different from then,” he said after conveying his good current condition, “I don’t know where he will go, but if he goes out to the bullpen, he will work hard accordingly. The national team is a place where we have to prepare with that much responsibility, so we will make sure to adapt well and be a good help.”
Adaptation in Arizona, USA is also smooth. A practice match against NC Dinos was held on the 17th, just a few days after the 18-hour long-distance move. Won Tae-in came to the mound as the team’s fourth pitcher and checked his condition by throwing 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts and no runs in one inning.