Lee Woo-sung vs Byun Woo-hyuk, KIA’s first base race still not sparking

Where and who is Lee’s heart set on?

For Kia Tigers manager Lee Beom-ho, one of the most important decisions he has to make is at first base. While batting order planning is something every manager does throughout the 144 games, it’s even more important to prioritize and utilize each position.

Lee Woo-sung, Byun Woo-hyuk, and Oh Sun-woo competed for a spot in the Canberra spring camp in Australia. Hwang Dae-in, who rehabbed from surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, started the spring training in Kochi with the second team, and after the Canberra schedule ended, Oh headed to Kochi. This doesn’t mean that Hwang and Oh are out of the running for the first base job, but it does mean that Lee Woo-sung and Byun Woo-hyuk had a chance to show manager Lee Bum-ho a little more in Okinawa.

However, neither Lee Woo-sung nor Byun Woo-hyuk has yet to make an impact in Okinawa. It could be said that there are no sparks. That means two things. In terms of defense, it’s good to be inconspicuous because it means you’re playing steady defense.

In fact, they spent quite a bit of time working on their defense at first base in Canberra, with Lee being the first to arrive for extra batting practice and the last to leave for the day, and getting in two fielding sessions before heading home. He also received individual tutoring from defense coach Park Ki-nam and practiced with hitting coach Hong Se-wan.

Against the KT Wiz, Yakult Swallows, and Lotte Giants, he wasn’t too worried about his first base defense. Even in Canberra, Lee’s adaptability was said to be good. His former manager said that Byun Woo-hyuk isn’t as bad defensively as many people think.

However, his batting hasn’t sparked yet. Against KT and Yakult, Lee went 1-for-6 with one home run and one walk. While Lee went 0-for-3 against KT, Byun went 0-for-5 as the designated hitter. With Lee out, Byun moved to first base. Byun has yet to record a hit in his last three games. In total, he has 10 hits and one walk.

That means he’s not in hitting form yet. In that regard, it’s understandable that KIA canceled a practice game against the Samsung Lions due to rain in Okinawa on the first day. The team needed to improve its condition through a lot of practice games. Kia will play practice games against the Lotte Giants and KT Wiz on March 3-4, train on March 5, and return home on March 6.

In the end, the competition for first base will likely not be clear until the exhibition games, which begin on Sept. 9. Hwang Dae-in and Oh Seon-woo, who have been in the coterie camp, could also join the competition. Lee Bum-ho’s vision for the first base position also gives us an idea of his style of playing.


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