Two friends, I’m happier to meet.
KT Wiz infielder Park Kyung-soo and right-handed underhander Woo Kyu-min burst into laughter at the Gijang Hyundai Motor Dream Ball Park in Busan, the site of their spring camp, on Sunday. They created an amicable atmosphere from the first day of their official training.
Park Kyung-soo, born on March 31, 1984, and Woo Kyu-min, born on January 21, 1985, became close friends when they joined the LG Twins side by side in 2003. At that time, Park was nominated in the first round, and Woo was the 19th pick in the second round of the third round. The two split up after sharing the same mood until 2014. It was because Park moved to KT as a new team in 2015 as a free agent. Woo also became a free agent and moved to Samsung in 2017.
We have become a team again this year. Park Kyung-soo, who became an FA after the end of last season, did not exercise his right. While agonizing over whether to extend his active duty, he decided to continue his career after being offered a one-year contract by KT manager Lee Kang-chul and KT general manager Na Do-hyun. Woo was selected sixth in the first round by KT in the second draft of the KBO after the end of last season.
They finally started training together at the spring camp after the off-season. “I’m so happy and happy,” Woo said expressing his true feelings. “Now I realize it. I want to do well together this year,” Park said with a smile. He kept smiling throughout the interview.
◆I’m curious about how you feel about training in one team after a long time.
-Woo Kyu-min: I am playing baseball with a really good coach, coaches, and players. I think I need to calm it down because it seems too reminiscent. I keep feeling good, happy, and so on. Instead, I try to be serious when playing baseball. Yesterday (January 31), I was at the dorm with Kyung-soo, and it felt like I was here to see Kyung-soo. I couldn’t believe it. I think it will become more realistic as time goes by.
- Park Kyung-soo: I thought we were back to 20. When we were resting in the room, Gyu-min dressed up his uniform down to his bottom and even wore a hat, and asked me, “Hey, am I okay? Does it look good on me? What about your back number?” I felt good as a friend to see that you were very excited. I felt that Gyu-min was truly happy.
Yesterday, I went grocery shopping with (Park) Byeong-ho, (Hwang) Jae-gyun and Gyu-min. We talked to each other, “Are we really one team?” and “Doesn’t it feel like we’re just here to go grocery shopping?” While training together in uniform today, I realized that we’re all in the same team. I ended the day in a good mood.
◆ Can we trust the captain Park Kyung-soo and the pitcher’s part to the oldest Woo Kyu-min.
- Park Kyung-soo: That’s enough. At first, I jokingly asked Kyu-min, “Do you want to be a pitching captain?” Thanks to Kyu-min, I was able to relieve my burden. I think I could talk more comfortably. Of course, the current pitching captain, (Go) Young-pyo, is doing a great job. Still, there will be other parts that you can see that Kyu-min. Kyu-min can point out things that Young-pyo and young players have not yet seen. I want to discuss those areas well with each other to create a better team culture.
-Woo Kyu-min: Although it hasn’t been long since I came to KT, there are many sincere and good players. Of course, I will learn what I need to learn. I want to create synergy by coexisting with the players. As Kyung-soo said, Young-pyo is doing very well as a pitching team leader.
◆ How nice I want my friend to be this year.
- Park Kyung-soo: I think Gyu-min will play the winning team in the middle game. I hope he can hold at least 30 holds. Of course, it’s not an agreement with Gyu-min. It’s my greed. If Gyu-min does that, I think our team will go up to the Korean Series. I will make the team atmosphere well.
-Woo Kyu-min: Then I want Kyung-soo to hit 30 home runs. Actually, Kyung-soo is considering retirement every season. Isn’t he a very well-known player in defense? The coach, coaching staff, and the club would think that Kyung-soo is number one in defense. This year, I hope Kyung-soo will be more greedy in attack and pay more attention to his work. I hope he plays a good season without injury. My personal greed is that Kyung-soo will show his performance as a power heater, if not as much as he used to. There is no retirement for Kyung-soo.
- Park Kyung-soo: This is not agreed upon either.
-Woo Kyu-min: When I said this, the director said, ‘Do it yourself. You don’t know what will happen in a year.’
◆ Have you thought about the timing of your retirement in detail.
- Park Kyung-soo: To be honest, I don’t want to be a burden to the manager, coaching staff, the club, and juniors. I have to admit my reality. I think there must be some kind of justification to be able to play more as a player. I haven’t been able to create such a justification so far. I was always preparing to let go of it anytime. Thankfully, the club offered me (extension contract). Rather than just accepting it recklessly, I thought a little about it. I wondered if this was right.
I am very grateful to the team called KT and the coach. When the coach asked me to take the captaincy position, I finally thought, “Oh, then I should do it (one more year).” I vowed to do better at what I can do well. Instead, if it doesn’t work out anytime, I will take off my uniform. I want to make a decision according to the situation. I am grateful to do it for another year.
Kyu-min will be able to play until his 60th birthday. He is a pitcher who does not give a walk. (Woo Kyu-min walked 10 times, nine times, nine times, six times, five times per year from 2019 to 2023)
-Woo Kyu-min: Actually, I haven’t thought about retirement yet. When I think, ‘I should let go of the ball now’ while pitching, I think I will put it down naturally.
Since childhood, he has been instructed that each batter should produce results within three balls. He tried to play fast even if he got a hit through aggressive pitching. That’s how he can save the number of pitches and face the next batter. If the game drags on, pitchers will be at a disadvantage more. That’s why there were fewer walks. Instead, the number of hits is high. Now, I think we should give a walk when we have to give a walk.
◆Woo Kyu-min wants to learn a lot from legendary underhand pitcher Lee Kang-chul.
-Woo Kyu-min: I want to learn many things. Today, I was playing catch, and the coach saw my form for the first time while playing baseball. I was so moved, and I felt really good. I barely restrained myself as I almost recalled it again. I try to learn a lot about the coach’s teaching and leadership. 마카오토토주소
◆In the offseason, Woo Kyu-min went to a mini camp in Okinawa, Japan with his Samsung juniors.
-Woo Kyu-min: I couldn’t cancel it. It was my last time with my Samsung juniors, so I had a good trip. I told them to talk a lot while exercising and contact me comfortably if they had any difficulties. The players sent me Samsung’s Okinawa spring camp schedule. They say, “It leaves at 8:40 a.m.”
- Park Kyung-soo: Gyu-min took over what (Kim) Sang-soo, who came to our team last year, went through.
◆ What do you think KT is doing this year.
- Park Kyung-soo: I don’t think it’s bad. Reliever (Kim) Min-soo and (Park) Si-young, who were injured last year, will join the team, and starting pitcher (Small) Hyung-joon will also return, although we don’t know when. Kyu-min also joined the team. Reliever (Son) Dong-hyun and (Lee)Sang-dong had good experience and obviously improved during the postseason last year. I think the team will become much more stable. The fielder’s side is good, too. I think he will have fun in a season.
- Woo Kyu-min: KT has a very good starting lineup. Its pitching staff is solid. That’s why it seems to be a strong team. There are many batters with strong batting power in terms of offense as well. “I need to win this year’s championship. I don’t mean to lead the team. I keep telling players these days to give me a ride on the bus,” and “Byeong-ho, hit 40 home runs.” Foreign hitter Mel Rojas Jr. also came. Rojas is Rojas. I think he will do well because he is a batter that I recognize. (Rohas won four times in batting in 2020 by ranking first in the league in homers (47), runs (116), RBIs (135), and slugging percentage (0.680). He won the MVP of the regular season.)
◆ Last words to each other.
-Woo Kyu-min: You’re good, man
- Park Kyung-soo: Oh, I’ll do well, I love you. If my team wins a season without any injuries, I want to put a winning ring on each other. It would be great.
-Woo Kyu-min: That’s right. I really want to try that. Now all we have to do is win.