1st designation renamed released rejoined released again…7 years in the making, the word ‘parents’ comes to mind while crying.

“I have mixed emotions, feeling sorry for my parents because it took me so long to make the first step.”

Lotte’s bats exploded for a 15-4 victory over Sasik SSG on April 17. They missed opportunities to add runs in the sixth and seventh innings and trailed by two runs in the top of the eighth. However, in the bottom of the eighth inning, they scored nine runs on nine hits and one walk. It was the team’s highest-hit and highest-run game of the year.메이저놀이터

After the eighth inning, the game was effectively over. Lotte warmed up their closer Kim Won-joong, but with the gap widening, they were able to give him a break, and a pitcher with an unfamiliar silhouette took the mound, though he was as tall as Kim Won-joong.

He was Kim Tae-wook (25), a left-handed pitcher wearing number 14. Tae-wook took the mound in the ninth inning and retired Cho Hyung-woo on a fly ball to right field, Kim Min-sik on a fly ball to right field, and Choi Joo-hwan on a fly ball to left field. He threw 17 pitches to close out the game.

Sajik Stadium was already celebrating the big win and series sweep. The top of the ninth inning could have been the last thing on anyone’s mind. But not Kim Tae-wook. As he basked in his joy, he couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by complex and nuanced emotions. He made an emotional first-team debut on this day, and he made it through the game unscathed.

Kim Tae-wook at Hanwha /OSEN DB
Kim was a player with a lot of bend. The 187cm, 88kg left-handed pitcher from Bukil High School was Hanwha’s first-round pick in 2017. He was a highly touted prospect, but didn’t quite live up to the hype. He wasn’t an immediate force, but his left-handedness made him a valuable resource to develop.

In his first professional year, he refined his potential in the second team. He started 17 of 24 games and went 2-10-1 with a 6.38 ERA. The following year, in 2018, he remained in the second team, going 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in 17 games, including five starts. After failing to make an impact, he enlisted in the military. After being discharged from the military in May 2020, Kim was converted to a developmental player and was never given another chance. In an attempt to change his fate, he changed his name to Kim Tae-wook. His first name was Kim Byung-hyun.

He was always overshadowed by his older baseball teammate, Kim Byung-hyun. But even after he changed his name to Kim Tae-wook, his career didn’t take off. His growth was slow and injuries were plaguing him. Eventually, he was released after the 2021 season. He never pitched for the first team.

He didn’t give up on his dream of extending his career. In May 2022, he was tested again by Hanwha. With a fastball in the low 140s and a top speed of 147, he was back in a Hanwha uniform. That seemed to be the end of his wanderings, but he went 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA (12 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings) in 10 games for the second team in 2022. Still an unspectacular record.

It’s cruel, but Tae-Wook Kim was once again released by Hanwha. Still, Kim wouldn’t let go of the ball and was waiting for another chance with the Paju Challengers in the independent league, and he got his third chance when Lotte reached out again.

Courtesy of the Lotte Giants

Courtesy of the Lotte Giants

Tae-wook has pitched 22 games in a Lotte uniform this year, going 2-3 with a 3.66 ERA (16 earned runs in 39 1/3 innings) in the second team. He briefly made it to the first team this year, helping with live batting in front of the first team hitters. He was officially called up to the first team on July 13. However, he didn’t get a chance to play. As the team won each game in close fashion, there were no opportunities to put Kim Tae-wook in the lineup. However, he finally got his chance to make his first-team debut today, and he did so in a scoreless inning. First baseman Jung Hoon got the last out and handed the ball to Kim Tae-wook. He was able to take home a commemorative debut ball.

It was my first first-team debut in seven years, and I couldn’t hide my emotions. The trials and tribulations were great and the dark tunnel was long, so emotions were bound to be high. “It took me a long time to make the first step, so I have mixed feelings, along with apologies to my parents,” Kim said, naming his parents who have supported him throughout his career.

He also reflected on the moments of his debut, saying, “When I got off the mound, I felt like I was going through the process of preparing before,” and emphasized, “I will make up my mind from today and work harder until the day I get another chance.”

The entire Lotte squad congratulated Kim Tae-wook on his debut. Even though he was on a new team, they knew what he had been through, so they conveyed their sincerity. “My seniors and younger brothers congratulated me a lot when I came off the mound. I won’t forget my gratitude and will try to be the player the team needs,” he said, vowing to help them in more games. /jhrae@osen.co.kr

Courtesy of the Lotte Giants