“I want you to go toe-to-toe again from today (Nov. 16) and dominate your opponents.”
Kia Tigers manager Kim Jong-kook had some stinging words for closer Jung Hae-young (22) when he met with reporters at Gwangju Kia Champions Field on Saturday. Jung took the loss in the top of the ninth inning of a 6-6 tie against the Doosan Bears in Gwangju on Friday, giving up two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out two in ⅓ innings.
It started badly. Jung got off to a good start, retiring the leadoff batter, No. 4 hitter Yang Ji Hyun, on a swinging strikeout. But he got himself into trouble when he walked the next batter, Jose Rojas. Kang Seung-ho singled in front of the pitcher to put runners on first and second, and Doosan was determined to turn the game around by replacing Rojas with the speedy Lee Yoo-chan at second base.
Jeong was unable to throw his own pitches from this point on, and ended up walking Heo Kyung-min to load the bases with one out, and gave up a pushing single to pinch-hitter Kim In-tae to make it 6-7.
Kim was forced to replace Jung Hae-young, who was shaky with three strikeouts. The new pitcher, Jang Hyun-sik, gave up a pushing grounder to Park Jun-young with the bases loaded to make it 6-8.
Kim said, “He should have stuck with the hitters, but I could see he was just trying to make it difficult. I think he was just trying not to get hit, so that’s a little disappointing. We need to go toe-to-toe again from today and dominate the opponent. I should have tried to induce a hit or get a strikeout, so that’s a little disappointing.”
It was a pitch that was so uncharacteristic of Jeong, Kim couldn’t help but be bitter. After graduating from Gwangju Jeil High School and joining KIA in 2020 as a first-round pick, Jeong turned heads in his debut season with five wins and 11 saves. In the 2021 season, he took over the closing duties in earnest and has since developed into one of KIA’s top closers.
In his fourth year as a professional, Jung has 82 career saves. He recorded 34 saves in 2021 and 32 saves in 20221, making him one of the top closers in the league. At the age of 21 years, 1 month, and 1 day, Jung became the youngest pitcher in history to reach 30 saves in two consecutive seasons. The previous record was held by Lim Chang-yong at 23 years, 2 months, and 7 days. He also became the first pitcher in Tigers history to record 30 saves in two consecutive seasons.
This year, however, he had his ups and downs. In 41 games, he had a 3-3 record, 15 saves, one hold, 37⅔ innings pitched, and a 3.58 ERA. In late May, he was designated for assignment and spent over a month on the second team to rebuild. His confidence on the mound plummeted as he struggled with his velocity and delivery. It was also a shock when he was not selected to the national team for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which seemed like a no-brainer as his struggles continued.토토사이트
Late last month, Jeong seemed to have regained his pace. From the 25th of last month against the Gwangju Hanwha Eagles to the 10th of this month against the Gwangju LG Twins, he saved five games in a row, giving KIA a big boost in their fight for the top five. He had a one-day setback on the 15th, but if he can regain the stability he showed in his previous games, he could be a valuable addition to the KIA bullpen.
“I was a little disappointed that he gave up a lot of walks in the ninth inning,” Kim said, adding that he hopes that Jung will continue to fight head-to-head with the opposing batters to get results and pitch convincingly, even if he loses.