The Lotte Giants got off to a fresh start for the 2023 season. It created a sensation by posting 14 wins and eight losses in the first month of April after the opening of the regular season. From the game against the KIA Tigers on April 20 to May 2, the Giants won nine consecutive games.
It was the first time in 13 years that Lotte had won nine consecutive games. The team
s home stadium, Sajik Baseball Stadium, was filled with enthusiasm from Busan fans due to the teams first high-speed race since June 3-12, 2010.
May was not a bad month for Lotte. It ranked third in monthly win rate with 13 wins and nine losses, and maintained third in this season’s ranking with 27 wins and 17 losses and winning rate with 0.614. Until then, the gap between Lotte and LG Twins, which ranked first, was only two games.
However, Lotte’s dominance seemed to remain firm from June has faltered. With nine wins and 16 losses, Lotte instantly lost its margin of victory or loss. It was even worse in July. With five wins and 12 losses, Lotte ranked last with a monthly win rate of 0.294, falling to seventh in this season’s ranking.
Lotte failed to rebound in the second half of the year. It had only 10 wins and 13 losses in August, and was completely pushed out of the race for the semifinals. To make matters worse, the mood of the team was even subdued due to unfavorable factors such as manager Larry Sutton leaving the helm on Aug. 28 amid deteriorating health.
Lotte’s final record for the 2023 season was 68 wins and 76 losses and 0.472 winning percentage, ranking seventh. It has been a miserable fall without baseball for six consecutive years, receiving the final report card, which lags the fifth-ranked Doosan Bears (74 wins, 68 losses, two draws, and 0.521 winning percentage).
Lotte eventually took the sword to reform itself. By boldly breaking away from the stance that it had given a novice coach rather than a veteran coach when appointing new coach, Lotte recruited Kim Tae-hyung.
While leading the Doosan Bears from 2015 to 2021, manager Kim Tae-hyung has advanced to the Korean Series for seven consecutive years, winning three Korean Series titles (2015, 2016, 2019) and winning two combined titles (2016, 2019). Lotte is preparing to take a leap forward in the 2024 season by making major changes in the composition of its coaching staff with manager Kim Tae-hyung.
Manager Joo Hyung-kwang of the Giants will be in charge of the Lotte mound this year. Joo Hyung-kwang is a “one club man” who only wore Lotte’s uniform from 1995 to 2007 when he was an active player. He recorded an ERA of 3.83 with 87 wins, 82 losses, nine saves, and 22 holds in 1524 ⅓ innings in 386 games.
As a coach, he only played for Lotte Giants. After serving as a training coach for the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese professional baseball league in 2008, he served as a coach for Lotte’s rehabilitation team in 2009, a bullpen coach for the first division, a main pitching coach for the first division, a main pitching coach for the second division, and a pitching coach for the third division.
After the end of the 2019 season, he left Lotte and worked hard to develop youth baseball as the head coach of the baseball team at Yangjeong Elementary School in Busan from 2021 to last year, but returned to the Giants this year.
Coach Joo Hyung-kwang currently focuses most on recovering the confidence of Lotte pitchers. As individual players’ skills and ball power are not bad, he believes that solving psychological problems should be a priority. 꽁머니환전
Prior to Lotte’s first day of the 2024 spring camp training held at Dedeo Baseball Stadium in Guam on the 1st (Korea time), Joo Hyung and Coach said, “The biggest goal is to instill confidence in the players. Basically, they are not bad at baseball, so I want to make them show their skills on the mound.”
However, he was outspoken in pointing out problems that Lotte pitchers are currently facing. He said that the mental aspect of the vicious circle is more important than technology behind the vicious circle in which Lotte’s pace sharply declines from mid-season after riding a good flow early in the regular season.