It’s a fact of life that we all age over time. Even superstars come under ‘retirement pressure’ when their prime years are over and their performance continues to decline. However, there are some who think differently. Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop (47).

Jang Won-jun started the game against Samsung at Jamsil Stadium on March 23. He pitched five innings and seven hits, walking four and striking out four to earn the win. Doosan went on to win 7-5.

It was his first start in 958 days since October 7, 2020, against the Munhak SK. The win was his first in 1844 days since May 5, 2018, against Jamsil LG Electronics.

It’s been a long time coming. He was an ace for eight consecutive years, producing double-digit wins, but his form declined after 2018. From 2019 to 2022, he appeared in only 67 games in four years. Injuries hampered him, which led to a slump.

It seemed like he would be forgotten, but then he made a comeback. In his first start of the season, he won. He reached the 130-win mark in his career.

Manager Lee Seung-yeop was also impressed. “He gave up a run in the second inning, but he picked it up in the third. He pitched well until the fifth inning. It was the first game of the week, so I wanted it to go long, but Jang Won-jun pitched well.”

The two words ‘retirement’ were becoming clearer as he struggled for a long time. There were many speculations that the 2022 season would be his last, but this year he is still playing. This would not have been possible without Lee’s determination.

In fact, Lee threw up his hands. “It’s not my decision. For a player of Jang Won-jun’s caliber, the club can’t decide for him. It has to be the player himself. It’s not right for the club to say ‘stop’ to a player who has achieved this level of performance,” he emphasized.

He continued, “Jang Won-jun himself said he wants to play more. That’s why we’re still together this year. It’s not fair to say, ‘Look for another team.’ It’s not polite. He was a 129-win pitcher. If it’s not good, he’ll think for himself,” he added.

He had an illustrious career. He was a national ace. You can’t help but think, “I can’t finish like this. He was desperate, and he managed to win the first game.

Coach Lee Seung-yeop said, “Even though he wasn’t perfect, he showed good form. Retirement is not something we can talk about. I don’t think anyone can know. If you look at the U.S. or Japan, there are players who play well over 40. They beat their opponents with tricks and tips. It’s all a matter of choice,” he explained.

He also shared his thoughts on veterans. “You think you’re in your 20s. But their bodies and minds are a world away from their 20s. Jang Won-jun is also nearing the end of his life. If he thinks about his prime, his performance will drop sharply. You need to find another way to practice. Then you can slow down your decline.”

“It reminds me of the end of my career. I want the veterans on each team to do well. It’s good for the young guys to do well, but it’s not easy to play a full season with young guys. It’s good if the veterans do well, but even if they don’t, it’s a boost in the dugout. You can be a captain even if you’re not playing well. You can be a leader,” he said encouragingly.

“I like the term ‘neo-structuring’. My older brothers can give me strength off the bench. Even if you don’t play, you can be a centerpiece. They can play a good role for the team,” he added.

Lee played until the age of 41. In 2017, his final season, he hit .280 with 24 home runs, 87 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.864. After being a “national hitter,” he hung up his jersey.

In fact, there was a crisis in the 2013 season. In 2023, his second year back with Samsung, he hit just .253 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs and an OPS of .693. It was his age 37 season, and there was talk of retirement.먹튀검증

But in 2014, he hit .308 with 32 homers, 101 RBIs, and a 0.915 OPS. He continued to play for Samsung until 2017. Lee Seung-yeop, who was not immune to the “age” bias, also broke through with his performance.

Of all the members of Doosan, Lee may be the one who knows Jang Won-jun’s heart better than anyone else. And Jang lived up to his expectations.

When young players play well at the same time, a team is naturally stronger. However, every team needs veterans. They can act as a booster when the team is doing well, and they can give a boost when the team is struggling. Be the team’s “dugout leader. Can bring the team together. It’s not all about grades.

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