“A junior was struggling and crying in front of me 안전놀이터… I felt so bad that I couldn’t help him because I couldn’t play baseball.”

Eight consecutive years in the top three, a national outfielder, a free agent with a price tag of 10 billion won – these are the measures of a professional baseball player’s superlative value.

NC Dinos’ Park Gun-woo, 33, wants to forget all this pride and be reborn. “I’m not the kind of player who can play baseball with my name on it,” he said when asked, “That’s for players at the level of Lee Jung-hoo, Choi Hyung-woo, and Kim Hyun-soo, and what am I?

It’s been an up-and-down season. This season, he’s batting .295 with eight home runs, 47 RBIs, and an OPS of .841. If you look at his stats, it doesn’t seem like much of a change from previous years. However, Park said, “I completely lost my own color. It’s definitely different. When I go into a slump, I can’t break it easily. I’ve put aside any regrets about my personal records,” he said.

During the season, the team was suddenly demoted to the second team due to disciplinary issues. NC coach Kang In-hwa was unforgiving of the mistakes of the team’s leading hitter.

His pride in baseball is shaken. “Even now, my batting form is different every at-bat. I’ve been hitting leg kicks all my life, but now I’m hitting with a toe tap. It’s hard because I’m breaking the flow of the team’s offense. I’m trying to do a lot of things to get better at baseball,” he said, revealing his frustration.

The 2023 KBO League game between the NC Dinos and LG Twins was held at Changwon NC Park on the 21st. NC Seo Ho-cheol. Changwon=Park Jae-man 기자pjm@sportschosun.com/2023.06.21/
The player he wants to emulate is Seo Ho-cheol, a junior who has turned into a three-hitter and third baseman this year. It’s not just a joke.

He asked Seo to explain his routine in detail, from training after arriving at the baseball field to in-game workouts to the end of the game, and he followed it to sharpen his mind.

“He’s the simplest player to hit a flying ball. I wanted to learn that simple feeling, so I stood (Seo) up and observed him while throwing balls.”

The 2023 KBO League game between the Lotte Giants and the NC Dinos was held at Sajik Stadium in Busan on April 1. NC Park Gun-woo. Busan=Jae-Man Park 기자pjm@sportschosun.com/2023.08.01/
Such an upheaval in the middle of the season can be risky. But Park’s studying mind won out. Park went 4-for-4 with a home run, one RBI, and one walk against the Lotte Giants on Monday, reaching base in every at-bat. A lucky double in the fourth inning that plated the first two runs of the game, an RBI single in the fifth inning that tied the game, and a leadoff double in the 11th inning that started a three-run rally.

Then there’s the junior in his sights. Kim Joo-won, a high school senior who took over the starting shortstop job with the departure of Noh Jin-hyuk last winter, but has struggled with a 2-for-3, 6-run OPS of .672.

The 2023 KBO League game between the NC Dinos and LG Twins was held at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on the 2nd. NC’s Kim Joo-won hits a single in the second inning. Jamsil = Heo Sang-wook 기자wook@sportschosun.com/2023.06.02/
“I should take more care of Joo-won…he’s having a hard time, and I’ve seen him cry in front of me many times, but I’m sorry that I can’t give him advice because I can’t play baseball and I’ve had bad experiences.”

Park Gun-woo added, “I told him a little bit about how to hit a changeup, how to handle the ball count, and how to fight, based on the premise that ‘even my brother can’t do it.’ He’s a player who has everything, but I think he’s still lacking in those areas.

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