“McKinnon is the key player.”
Samsung Lions manager Park Jin-man picked new foreign hitter David McKinnon as the “key player” of this season’s fielders. McKinnon, a mid- to long-range batter, is an infielder who can defend first and third bases, while Park Jin-man is seeking to maximize his offense by giving McKinnon the position of the main third baseman.
In fact, McKinnon has played more games as a first baseman than as a third baseman. He played in 12 games as first baseman and five games as third baseman in the U.S. Major League, and 310 games as a first baseman for five seasons in the Minor League (Rookie ~ Triple-A). As for third baseman, he played in only 10 games in Triple-A. In Japan, he played in far more games (87 games) than third basemen (33 games). “I like defense against the third base, but it is easier to defend the first base and more efficient in terms of hitting the first base,” he told this reporter at a spring camp interview.
What is the reason for using McKinnon as a third baseman, not as a main first baseman? Oh Jae-il is at first base.
Oh has been in charge of Samsung’s infielders for the past three years since he moved to the FA (free agent) in 2020. His defense of first base is considered the best in the KBO League. However, Oh suffered a severe slump last year. He played 106 games with a batting average of 0.203, 11 homers and 54 RBIs. Due to lingering injuries including a strained left hamstring, Oh was unable to play at bat due to regulation. Some even said that an aging curve (a phenomenon in which players’ athletic ability declines at a certain age and skills decline).
However, manager Park Jin-man and general manager Lee Jong-yeol were confident that Oh Jae-il would make a comeback in the new season. “I heard that Oh Jae-il suffered a lot of hamstring and other injuries last year. If he manages his injuries well, he will still be able to show good performance,” Lee said with confidence. Since then, Lee has strengthened his team’s training part and worked hard to manage players’ conditions. Based on this, he expressed expectations that Oh will definitely make a comeback.
Manager Park Jin-man believed that Oh’s new shift restriction, which will take effect this season, would enable him to survive. Oh is a typical “pulling hitter,” and his opponent team used a shift in which three infielders were placed only between first and second bases. However, such extreme shifts will disappear from the next season. The bad luck of last year’s hitters being caught in shifts is also expected to disappear. “The shift restriction will certainly be a positive factor for Oh’s resurgence,” manager Park Jin-man told reporters at the Okinawa camp in Japan. “I believe that Oh will survive, so I selected him as the main first baseman in the new season as well.” 라바카지노
However, Park did not unconditionally nail down first baseman Oh Jae-il and third baseman McKinnon. “We are preparing McKinnon as third baseman, but we are also considering making him play as first baseman alternately as Oh Jae-il based on his movements during the camp,” manager Park Jin-man said. One of the two players can be deployed as designated hitters to simultaneously arrange physical strength and strengthen his offense.