“I wanted to show the franchise players that they are strong.”
Kiwoom Heroes outfielder Lim Byung-wook wielded the bat that propelled the team to its third straight win. In his first season back from military service, the outfielder has gradually gotten acclimated to the first team, hinting at a strong second half.
In the 14th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Lotte Giants at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday, Lim went 2-for-2 with a double, a home run, two RBIs, three runs scored, and two walks while batting eighth and playing right field.
Lim made his presence felt from his first at-bat. He led off the bottom of the third inning with Kiwoom trailing 0-2, drew a walk off Lotte starter Park Se-woong and came around to score on Kim Jun-wan’s RBI single.
Lim’s performance continued. With Kiwoom trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, he blasted a two-run home run off Park Se-woong to spark the comeback.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with her team trailing 3-4, she hit a single up the middle to put runners on first and second with nobody out and scored on Kim Hye-sung’s RBI double. The final at-bat of the eighth inning was also a walk, continuing to plague the Lotte mound throughout the game.
Kiwoom rode Lim Byung-wook to a 7-6 victory over Lotte and a three-game weekend sweep. The win gave Lim a boost of confidence as he continued his hot hitting streak, going 8-for-20 in August with a .400 batting average.
“The home run in the fourth inning wasn’t the game-winner or the tiebreaker, so I tried to focus on the game a little bit more rather than relishing it,” said Lim. “It helped that I worked a lot with coach Kang Byung-sik in the second team on narrowing the strike zone a little bit. I didn’t think it would go over the plate, but I hope I can hit pitches like this often in the future.”
Lim was a highly touted prospect who joined Kiwoom as the first overall pick out of Deoksugo in 2014, and was rated higher in terms of physical condition, power, and potential than his teammate Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres).
However, Lim faced a lot of growing pains in the professional ranks. After switching positions from shortstop to outfielder, he increased his first-team playing time since the 2016 season, but he never quite broke out of his prospect shell. 안전놀이터
He broke into the main lineup in 2018 with a .293 batting average with 124 hits, 13 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases, but he hasn’t played a single full-time game since, joining the Merchants (2021-2022) and completing his military service.
“Going to the military changed my position. I’m now in my 10th year as a player,” he said. “Every time I play, I always try my best on and off the field to look like a (professional) player. There are a lot of players from other teams, but I think it was a game that gave me the feeling that the franchise players who are still here are still here,” he said with a smile.
“I think I tried too hard on defense in the first inning because I wanted to show something more,” he said. “If I can give the fans on the field and the people watching on TV a sense that this guy is really giving it his all, then it’s a good play.