“It’s an adventure and a challenge.”
Coach Jae-Hoon Jeong talked about his feelings about taking on a new challenge with the KIA Tigers. KIA announced on the 26th that it had hired Coach Jeong as the first team pitching coach. Along with Coach Jeong, Coach Lee Dong-geol joined the first-team bullpen, and it was decided not to renew the contracts with coaches Seo Jae-eung and Kwak Jeong-cheol, who were previously in charge of the pitching department.주소
Coach Jeong is from the Doosan Bears franchise and has only served as a leader at Doosan so far. He graduated from Whimoon High School and Sungkyunkwan University and wore the OB (now Doosan) uniform as No. 37 in the second round of the 1999 rookie draft. He debuted in the first team in 2003 and recorded 555 career games, 35 wins, 44 losses, 139 saves, 84 holds, and an earned run average of 3.14. He played an active role as a sure-win player and closing pitcher representing Doosan. His professional career outside of Doosan lasted only one season in 2015. He headed to the Lotte Giants as a compensation player for free agent pitcher Jang Won-jun, then returned to Doosan in the second round of the draft the following year.
He began his career as a leader due to an unexpected injury. In 2016, he decided to retire in 2017 after recovering from an injury suffered in the right forearm by a batting ball. He started as a bullpen coach at Doosan in the 2018 season and worked his way to becoming a coach. He continued to contribute to developing pitchers by going back and forth between the first and second teams for six seasons until this year.
When Coach Seung-yeop Lee took office as the new coach in October of last year, Coach Jeong led the first-team pitchers. Then, he was moved down to the second team during the season to freshen up the atmosphere, and devoted himself to his development until the end of the season. This year marks my 6th year as a coach at Doosan, and I thought I needed a turning point, but this came true when KIA general manager Shim Jae-hak offered me a coach position.
Coach Jeong said in a phone call with SPOTV News on the 26th, “I didn’t have a big relationship with director Shim Jae-hak. We talked on the phone regularly when he was a commentator, but the director contacted me first. How did he look kindly on me and give me this opportunity? was given. I felt like I could take on a personal challenge and gain experience. I think it was a good thing that such an opportunity came to me by chance,” he said, expressing his gratitude to the KIA team for providing an opportunity for a new challenge.
Leaving Doosan, which I loved, was not easy. Coach Jeong said, “It’s an adventure and a challenge,” but “I think I built up a lot with the players while I was at Doosan, and I got along well with each and every member of the team’s staff. I think I’ll be able to get along like that again when I go to KIA. “It just takes time, but if you treat them with sincerity, you will be able to build a bond with the players, coaches, and employees,” he said with a smile.
The KIA mound that Coach Jeong saw from the outside looked quite high. It is a blessing for the pitching coach as there are young guns who can have a rich season if they select a good foreign one-two punch.
Coach Jeong said, “This year and last year, the team composition and various strengths were good, but there were injuries to players and foreign pitchers were unable to perform, so it seems that the results were not as expected. Looking at this year, the domestic pitching staff has young and good starting pitchers, and the bullpen. “The players are also good. I think it will be a good team as long as the foreign pitchers return without any problems,” he said.
He was looking forward to meeting KIA pitcher Yang Hyun-jong. Yang Hyun-jong is the representative face of KIA’s pitching staff and is a veteran with experience in the American Major League. He said that even as a coach, there are things to feel from watching and learning from such players. I am also looking forward to meeting with national team members such as Lee Ui-ri and Choi Ji-min.
Coach Jeong said, “(Yang) Hyun-jong has also been to the United States, and I am curious about how he trains and what kind of mindset he has as a player. I want to see young and good pitchers like Lee Ui-ri and Yoon Young-cheol, and players like Choi Ji-min, whose skills have suddenly improved. “I want to see them all at least once, but those players couldn’t come to the national team (APBC) in this closing camp. I think we should keep an eye on young players who can be helpful when making team entries in this finishing camp.”
KIA plans to conduct final training in Okinawa, Japan from the 1st to the 28th of next month. The pitcher list was made up of young players such as Yoon Young-cheol and Kim Ki-hoon. Coach Jeong Jae-hoon plans to get to know the KIA players by attending the final camp.
As he left Doosan, he looked back on the past six years he spent as its leader. Coach Jeong said, “I think it’s the same for everyone. When I retired as a player and became a coach, I felt very frustrated at first because the players didn’t share my feelings. In that process, I learned a lot about how to wait and be patient. I definitely made mistakes during the season. “I tried not to make mistakes next time. I’ve been a leader for 6 years, but I don’t think I’m at the stage where I can say I’ve created a solid philosophy. I think I’m learning as I go,” he honestly confessed.
As he spent his last days in the 2nd team, he also left a message of support to the Doosan young guns who sweated under the scorching sun together. Coach Jeong said, “The 2nd team players work really hard. They work harder than you can imagine, so I had to keep trying to stop them (so they don’t get hurt). There are so many players who are so passionate and hard-working that no one can be mentioned. There are so many players in the 2nd team as well. “There are a lot of really good players. I want them to do as well as they did and I support them,” he said emphatically.
He pledged to become a leader who takes KIA to the next level. Coach Jeong said, “I’m very sorry to the Doosan fans. They loved and liked me a lot and worried about me, but I don’t think I lived up to their expectations. I think I’m in the beginning as a leader now. I think we’ll meet again in a different form someday.” “I think that if I develop and get better, I will definitely be able to see myself in a good light,” he said, pledging to do his best to avoid disappointing both Doosan and KIA.