Acting Lotte manager Lee Jong-woon talked about the “eldest” member of the pitching staff, Kim Sang-soo, before the team’s game against Samsung in Ulsan on May 5.
Kim had appeared in 60 games before the game and was cruising with a 4-1 record, one save, 16 holds and a 3.11 ERA. “He always prepares well for games and is a good example for the juniors. As the oldest member of the pitching staff, he has been able to step in and save the day when the team needs him the most,” said acting head coach Lee Jong-woon.안전놀이터
In this game, Kim Sang-soo proved why Lee Jong-woon was so effusive in his praise. In the top of the seventh inning with runners on second and third and a 7-3 lead, he induced Jose Pirela to fly out to center field. In the eighth inning, he induced Oh Jae-il, the leadoff hitter, to ground out to second base and handed the mound over to Jin Seung-hyun.
Lotte defeated Samsung 10-3 and won its second straight game after a four-game sweep of Sajik Doosan on April 4. Speaking to the media after the game, Kim Sang-soo responded to Lee Jong-woon’s praise by saying, “As a player, I think it’s something you have to do and it’s basic. I always accept praise gratefully, and I feel a sense of responsibility as he praises me.” He humbled himself.
“There are some people who say that the word ‘momentum’ has made me stuck, but I don’t think so,” he said, emphasizing that “I think you have to have momentum, and only then can you do what you need to do well and do it with confidence.”
On the secret to his stellar second half, which saw him go 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 22 appearances, he said, “I’m still young. They call me an old-timer, but I have a forty-two-year-old brother who plays baseball, and I’m only thirty-six. I really don’t want to be labeled as an old player or as slow because I’m getting older.”
“I thought, ‘I’m still in my prime, I’m still good enough, why would he say that,’ and I wanted to show him that I can do it. I gritted my teeth and kept going, even when it was hard. I’m sure there are some players who are going through a tough time, but I want to give them a message that I hope they will be able to come back to their best once again.”
Kim has a reputation as a self-care athlete. He regularly trains with weights and maintains the physical strength of a player in his 20s. “I think I should do that until the day I kiss the mound,” he said.
“Among the juniors in the pitching group, (Koo) Seung-min and (Kim) Won-joong tend to approach me a lot. In fact, I try to learn more than they do. I’m grateful to them and try to give them as much good as I can.”
“Some people say that it’s over or that the aging curve has come, but I believed that if I believe in myself and work hard until the end, I can go beyond my limits, and if I challenge myself, I can succeed one day, and I think it’s becoming a reality,” he smiles wryly.