Choi Won-joon, who rose from a slump of 0.074 in the exhibition game, said, “I prepared while watching you when you were good.”

The exhibition game alone was more worried than expected, but now the situation has changed. KIA Tigers outfielder Choi Won-joon continued his three-game hitting streak with his first home run in 13 days. Choi Won-joon contributed to his team’s 5-2 victory by starting as the ninth hitter and center fielder in Game 1 of the season against the Samsung Lions in the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League at Gwangju-KIA Champions Field on the 5th. Choi Won-jun took first base due to his opponent’s error in his first at-bat. Samsung’s second baseman Ahn Joo-hyung made a throwing error, leading to Choi Won-jun’s on-base hit. However, Choi Won-jun was unable to step home due to the failure of subsequent hits. Choi announced his presence at the second batter’s box. When Choi met Reyes with two outs and a runner on first base in the bottom of the fifth inning when his team was leading 1-0, he swung his bat vigorously at the sweeper for the fourth pitch with two balls and one strike, and the ball went over the right fence. It was Choi’s second homer of the season 노래방알바, which he hit for the first time in 13 days since the opening game of the regular season against the Kiwoom Heroes on April 23. For KIA, Choi Won-joon’s home run was able to widen the gap, and Seo Geon-chang’s timely RBI and Han Jun-su’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning added two more runs to take a step closer to victory. Manager Lee Bum-ho also praised Choi Won-joon, saying, “We were able to manage the game a little more leisurely as Choi Won-joon’s two-run home run came out when additional points were needed.” After the game, Choi said, “(I hit the sweeper to make a home run) I think I hit it without realizing it. I wasn’t conscious of it, but luckily I hit it well. I didn’t think about anything else.” Meeting Reyes once at an exhibition game on April 18 was a big help. Reyes became the winning pitcher against Kia’s batters at the time by allowing one run with two hits (one homer) and three strikeouts and no outs in six innings, but was somewhat sluggish in this showdown with Reyes, who had seven hits (two homers) and two strikeouts and five runs in five innings. Choi Won-joon said, “I think I was familiar with the trajectory because it was helpful to face Reyes in the exhibition game, and I was hit by the same ball in the first at-bat. I think it was good in that regard because the pitcher who faced the ball more often than the first pitcher showed the trajectory of the ball and was easier to deal with.” Choi suffered from severe slump by posting two hits from 27 times at bat in exhibition games, batting average of 0.074 with one homer and one RBI, but has maintained a sense of hitting since the opening game of the regular season. He also played multiple hits in three games. Choi Won-joon said, “In fact, the coach and the batting coach have been looking forward to it since the camp, but the process was so bad and I was very stressed about that. I prepared a lot of things after the exhibition game, and I think I got better,” and looked back, “Because there was a good time, the batting coach, coach, and the power analysis team helped me while watching the video at that time.” “The opening home run of the regular season was also good, but even if there were some results one by one, I personally fell into a lot of thoughts because it wasn’t what I thought. But I think I prepared hard with the thought of overcoming it because the coach and coach kept saying good things next to me,” he added. Choi has the highest number of final hits (3) in the league. His batting average is not very high at 0.222, but he has created many decisive moments. “I think the older guys are getting on base so much and hitting well that I keep getting opportunities, but I think they are going to bat thinking that it is the final game when they lose,” Choi said. “I don’t care much about the poor batting average or the fact that they have a lot of final hits. After the season ends, it could be the opposite.” Choi also expressed confidence in his defense and base running. “I gained some confidence in defense, and I prepared a lot. Anyone can make mistakes, so I think I’m above average, so I’m confident in my defense,” Choi said. “Coach Cho Jae-young said a lot of good things (on the base running) and helped me in areas I can go, so I think I’m getting greedy to steal bases this year. I want to increase my success rate by recording about 30.” Choi is running while watching his team win the Korean Series. “I think the batting order is really fancy, too. That’s why baseball is more fun and I don’t have time to rest,” Choi said. “I have no personal goal. I only watched it when my team won the championship in 2017, but I want to become the mainstay of my team and win the championship this year.”

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