“Even if I do well, I want to do well at KIA…” Byun Woo-hyuk’s past year

Byun Woo-hyuk (KIA Tigers) joined the Hanwha Eagles in the first round of the 2019 draft as a “right-handed batting prospect” and was expected to be the team’s and the league’s leading hitter in the future. He was also the motivation for Noh Si-hwan to join the team.

However, his performance was dismal. Byun struggled in his first year with 29 games, 53 hits, 12 doubles, 0.226, one home run, two doubles, seven RBIs, and a 0.630 OPS, and in 2022, his first season after leaving the mercantile service, he fell short of expectations with 21 games, 61 hits, 16 doubles, 0.262, three home runs, eight RBIs, and a 0.721 OPS.

In November 2022, things changed for Noh. Hanwha and KIA made a two-for-one trade, sending pitchers Han Seung-hyuk and Jang Ji-soo to Hanwha and Byun Woo-hyuk to KIA. Hanwha focused on bolstering its mound, while KIA pinned its hopes on Byun’s talent.

On July 7 at Narabunda Ballpark in Canberra, Australia, Byun recalled the circumstances of his trade. “From the moment I came to KIA, I felt like, ‘Even if I do well, I want to do well here,’ and ‘Even if I retire later, I want to finish here.’ I don’t know if it’s because of those things, but I think I should be the player who succeeds (Choi) Hyung-woo or (me) Sung-beom, and I think the club and fans think so too,” he said.

Compared to before his transfer, Byun has gotten a lot of opportunities. In 83 games and 200 at-bats last year, he batted .225 with 45 hits, seven home runs, 24 RBIs, and an OPS of .664. Although he didn’t stay in the first team for the entire season, Byun saw hope.

“Last year, I played a lot of games in the first team for the first time, and I think I was pushed to my limits a lot, and I was impatient with myself, and I was also exhausted,” Byun said. “(On the other hand), when I train, I think my hitting and defense are much better than last year. I had confidence in myself because I knew I was getting better every year, and I think last season was a turning point in a way,” he said.

“Actually, there are some technical things, but I realized a lot that ‘a season is a long time,’ and (Park) Chan-ho told me that a lot, and (I) Sung-beom and my older brothers all told me that. They advised me that I have a lot of seasons left, so I can start again. I think I’ll be fine if I don’t rush and don’t get chased,” he added.

So far, the preparation process has gone well. “I think I moved well in defense practice because I built my body well,” Byun said. For batting, I only practiced indoors in the winter, but after about three days of training, I felt good right away, so I’m trying to maintain it.” “I think the climate is a big factor. When I injured my back when I was in Hanwha, I think the cold weather had a lot to do with it. There’s a big difference between being warmed up and not, so I’m happy with the weather (in Australia).”

“This is my sixth year, and I think I prepared the hardest (compared to the past five years), and I think I got in better shape. I took a lot of workouts and tried to do my best. I think it helped a lot that I tried to keep what I learned from the coaches from the final 토토사이트 camp.” He expressed his gratitude to the coaching staff.

This year, the KIA first baseman is facing fiercer competition than ever before, as it’s a ‘silent battlefield’. Even outfielder Lee Woo-sung has thrown down the gauntlet, making the atmosphere even more heated. “I don’t think it makes sense to get a chance if you’re not good enough,” Byun said. “It’s good for each other to compete, and the synergy between us will motivate us, so we can improve our skills. That’s a plus for the team,” he said.

“Towards the end of last season, we became more stable on defense. “It’s going to depend a lot on how I fight at the plate,” he said, adding, “Honestly, I’m weak against changeups, so they’re going to try to throw them, and I’m going to try to take it easy and just hit the ball up the middle.

Byun, who hasn’t had a clear goal for the season, is aiming for double-digit home runs for the first time in his career. He said, “I said my goal is to have no regrets when given the opportunity, but I want to end it with last year. This year, I set a quantifiable goal. I’ve set a goal of batting over .250 and hitting at least 15 home runs, so that’s what I’m going to try to do to get there.”

He also mentioned the interest of the fans. “Even though the season was not satisfactory in terms of results, I received a lot of love from fans, including gifts and coffee tea,” Byun said. I was happy for a year, and I want to be happier. I think that if I am happy, I will eventually make my fans happy,” he said, vowing to perform well in the 2024 season.


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