4 FA moves, signs of success beyond success

Baseball is ultimately mental. “I feel at ease coming to my hometown team.”

Professional baseball KIA Tigers infielder Seo Geon-chang (35) started as first baseman No. 7 in the second game of the season against KT Wiz of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League held at Suwon KT Wiz Park on the 3rd and recorded 3 hits (1 home run) in 4 at-bats. He performed a one-man show with 3 RBIs and 2 runs, leading the team to a 5-1 victory.

From the first at-bat, the bat was unusual. He appeared as runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out and 1 out in the 2nd inning, trailing 0-1, and faced KT starter Eom Sang-baek and was in a 0B-2S unfavorable count, but hit a high cutter on the 3rd pitch and connected with a timely hit to left with 1 RBI. The score was tied 1-1.

The highlight was the second at-bat. In the 4th inning with the score 1-1, with 2 outs and runners on first base, Seo Geon-chang hit Eom Sang-baek’s outside change-up (132 km) at a ball count of 1B-1S and fired a two-run gun to turn the score around. The distance is 115m. He reported his 40th home run in his career 560 days after the Gwangju KIA game on September 21, 2022, when he was with the LG Twins. This was the final hit of the day.

Seo Geon-chang did not stop. In the 6th inning, ahead 3-1, with 1 out and runners on first base, he hit a double to the right-center field against Ju-won, completing 3 hits in 2 games in 2 games since the Jamsil Doosan game on March 31. After preempting the 2B-1S advantageous count, he succeeded in attacking the four-seam fastball on the fourth pitch. Afterwards, Kim Tae-gun hit a timely hit with 2 RBIs and advanced to home.

Cycling Heat has 3 bases left. Seo Geon-chang attempted to hit a record with no outs on first base in the 8th inning with a 5-1 lead, but he met veteran Woo Gyu-min and ended his at-bat with a fly ball to left field.

Seo Geon-chang’s season batting average, who hit his second 3 hits of the season, soared from .400 to .500 (7 hits in 14 at-bats).

What is the secret to resurrection? Seo Geon-chang, whom we met after the game, said, “I feel like I’ve done a lot this year for the first time in a long time. “It’s so much fun,” he said with a smile, “There’s nothing else. I am playing baseball with peace of mind, and there was no mistake in preparing in the winter. I spent a lot of time getting to know each other with the hitting coach during camp, and I think we have a good synergy. He speaks in a simple way so that I can approach it simply. I also met a good director. “Now that I’m seeing results, I feel more confident and can focus better.”

I was also able to hear how he felt about hitting a home run for the first time in 560 days. Seo Geon-chang said, “The pitch came in and was hit at a good point. “I felt it the moment it hit,” he said. “I’m not a hitter who hits home runs, but if a good angle comes from a good point, it becomes a home run. He has been sluggish and lacks confidence, so I hope today’s home run will be a catalyst. “It was a home run that actually gave me confidence,” he explained.

Seo Geon-chang extended his active service last January by signing with KIA for a total of 120 million won (annual salary 50 million won). At the time, a KIA official said, “We decided to recruit the experienced Seo Geon-chang because we believed he would be a great help in the development of young and promising infielders on the team. He explained the reason for recruiting Seo Geon-chang, saying, “I hope that he will lead the juniors well together with Kim Seon-bin, and that he will make a comeback in his hometown team.”
Seo Geon-chang, who graduated from Gwangju Jeil High School and entered the professional ranks as a training player for the LG Twins in 2008, transferred to the Heroes and enjoyed his prime. His best season was the 2014 season. He won the regular season MVP with a career high of .377, 201 hits, 7 home runs, 67 RBI, 48 stolen bases, and 135 runs scored in 128 games at the time, and broke the KBO League record for most hits in a single season. Seo Geon-chang is the only player to reach 200 hits since the KBO opened in 1982.

Seo Geon-chang, who was the Heroes’ signature second baseman, returned to his hometown LG through a 1-to-1 trade with Chan-heon Jeong in July 2021. Seo Geon-chang’s career took a sharp decline from this point on. He played all games (144 games) in the pre-FA season, but after moving to LG, he suffered a slump with a batting average of .200, 4.7, 7.0, and 24 RBI in 68 games, and chose to re-enter FA after the season.

The 2022 season also did not go as Seo Geon-chang wanted. He suffered from injuries and poor performance, and fell into a slump with a batting average of .200, 4.0, 2 home runs, and 18 RBI in 77 games. Seo Geon-chang did not exercise his free agency rights this time and became a third-year free agent.

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