“I felt like I was fighting with myself, it was frustrating”

Han Dong-hee started at third base and batted fifth in the lineup against SSG Landers in the seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 18, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to lead his team to a 7-2 victory.

Han, who was selected by Lotte with the first overall pick in the 2018 KBO Draft, had one of the hottest months of her professional career in April 2022. She earned her first career monthly MVP honor in April, swinging the bat with a .427 batting average with seven home runs, 22 RBIs, 16 runs scored and a 1.249 OPS. He then had a career-high season with 140 hits, 14 homers, 65 RBIs, a .307 OPS and an .817 slugging percentage in 129 games, despite a hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup.

Han made a big change after the 2022 season. She started working out early, lost a whopping 15 kilograms, and worked on her swing mechanics with a focus on long balls under the guidance of Park Heung-sik, who has developed some of the best hitters in the KBO. Her performance in 11 exhibition games with 10 doubles, two home runs, and a .370 OPS of 1.136 raised expectations for the 2023 season.

However, when the lid was lifted, the results were disappointing. Han went 0-for-7 in the opening game of the season against the Doosan Bears, and then suffered a severe slump in the month of April, going 0-for-12 with two home runs, 10 RBIs, and a .169 OPS. He started to find his groove in May, hitting .278 with a .654 OPS in 20 at-bats, but was sent down four days into June.먹튀검증

When asked why Han was sent down after appearing to be on a roll, manager Larry Sutton said, “It’s a matter of perspective. She struggled in April, but she showed some signs of improvement in May as she worked to break out of her slump. But it didn’t last long. There were signs that things were going to get better, but it was up and down. He was inconsistent, and then he would go down for two or three games or a week, so we decided that he needed to make a second team adjustment.”

After the drop to the second team, Han took off. In eight games in the Futures League, she hit .379 with 11 hits, one home run, three doubles, five RBIs, and a 1.041 OPS. Ten days after being waived from the first team, she was called back to the first team. However, things didn’t go so well once again. Up until the 18th, Han had struggled with one hit in 11 at-bats in three games since her return.

Before the 18th game, Sutton said, “I’d rather talk about the process than the results. She’s working on her approach, trying to keep it simple, and trying to hit pitches that are in her zone. That’s why she tries not to follow her opponent’s pitches as much as possible. I think he’s on the right track,” he said, adding, “Yesterday (Sunday), he had a double, but he made some strong pitches to third base and shortstop.”

While still up and down, the performance on the 18th was certainly encouraging. Han struck out in her first at-bat in the first inning, but with runners on first and second in scoring position in the top of the third, she took advantage of SSG starter Roenis Elias’ 136-kilometer changeup in the middle of the strike zone for a two-run double to left-center field.

She didn’t stop there. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and a 3-0 lead, Han took advantage of Elias’ four-pitch, 150-kilometer fastball and smashed it into the left field seats to put her team in scoring position. Han Dong-hee capitalized on the opportunity, scoring a run to widen the gap. And with runners on first and third in the top of the sixth inning with a 6-0 lead, Han did her job at the plate perfectly, pushing a slider from pitcher Baek Seung-gun for a sacrifice fly.

The at-bat wasn’t bad. However, the lack of results left her frustrated. “I felt like I was fighting with myself because the timing and results were bad,” Han said. When I had a chance, I couldn’t get my hands on a good pitch. I think confidence comes from the results, and I think that if I solve each problem one by one, there will be good results.”

“I tried to keep accepting it, but it wasn’t easy. I solved a lot of it by talking to (Ahn) Chi-hong, (Jeon) Jun-woo, (Jung) Hoon-i, and my older brothers,” Han Dong-hee said. “I had a tendency to hit harder, so in the second team, I practiced hitting lightly with direction. And since we didn’t have the stress of grades, we just focused on direction.”

Coach Park Heung-sik expressed his regret for changing Han’s off-season form in response to her repeated slumps. “I was so frustrated,” Han said. In the morning, Coach Park (Heung-sik) gave an interview, so I was even more nervous,” she said, adding, “I can’t say anything because the results were not good, but I don’t think about changing (the mechanism). However, if we do our best in the end, the results will definitely improve,” she emphasized.

There’s no guarantee that Han Dong-hee’s resurgence is complete based on her performance today. However, what is clear is that Lotte’s competitiveness in the fall baseball season will increase if Han Dong-hee’s hitting is revitalized. The signal has been fired. Now it’s time for consistency.

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