“I’m focusing on being the best in one area (second base) with the goal of having long balls.”
Choi Joo-hwan (35-SSG Rangers) started at second base, batting fifth, against the Doosan Bears in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on June 26 at Jamsil Stadium. The opposing starting pitcher was ace Raul Alcantara (31-Dusan), who was a part of the Doosan lineup in the 2020 season. It was an intense matchup between former teammates.
Choi went 2-for-4 with a double (one home run), four RBIs and two runs scored to help his team to a 14-3 victory. With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning and his team trailing 0-3, Choi took Alcantara’s four-seam fastball over the right field fence. The 110-meter two-run home run (his ninth of the season) made it a 2-3 game.
Keeping the momentum going, Choi took another shot at Alcantara. With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning, Choi took advantage of Alcantara’s changeup for a two-run double. Alcantara was not the only one with a multi-hit game, as he finished with four RBIs and continued to harass his former teammate.
When we caught up with Choi after the game, he was all smiles about his performance in the win. “This is the second time we’re facing Doosan (this season) after the last home game against Munhak. I don’t think of it as a Doosan game anymore, I think of it as a part of the game, and I’m glad we got a good result.”
While there were many factors that contributed to SSG’s victory, Choi Joo-hwan was the most prominent. SSG fell behind early in the game to Alcantara, but a cannonball from Choi turned the tide. From there, they continued to bombard the opposing mound to win the game. After the game, Choi was tied for second in the league in home runs (9) and second in on-base percentage (.522).
“Home runs are not something I hit because I want to,” Choi said. Of course, I’m not a home run hitter. I’m thinking about direction, and I think I definitely had this (long balls) when I signed as a free agent. Park Min-woo (30-NC Dinos) and Kim Hye-sung (24-Keum Heroes) are typical second basemen in the league. I think Kim Sun-bin is part of that now. Ahn Chi-hong (33-Lotte Giants) and Na also seem to produce long balls at second base. We’re focusing on being the best in terms of long balls in one area,” he said.
Veteran Choi had his worst season last year (.211 with nine home runs, 41 RBIs, and a .362 on-base percentage). His batting average, home runs, and on-base percentage were all uncharacteristic of Choi. He sweated it out in the offseason and prepared for this season with a desperate heart, and it’s paying off.
“Fortunately, it’s going well,” Choi said, “but the season isn’t over yet. I hope that at the end of the season, we will have a good harvest. I don’t have any wishes other than to have a good season with good health,” he said. 안전놀이터
“Last time, Alcantara (31-Dusan Bears) said ‘no hit’ and ‘just hit ground balls’. There is no guarantee of a good result every time, but fortunately, today (26th) I got a good result as a comrade-in-arms,” he said, smiling at the fact that he was able to produce a good result against his old teammate.