Yong-kyu Lee says of his 3-hit, 5-RBI performance in his comeback

Lee Yong-kyu talks about his big hit in his comeback game.

On April 12, the Kiwoom Heroes defeated the Lotte Giants of the Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League 2024 at the Gocheok SkyDome in Seoul, South Korea. On that day, Kiwoom won 9-4 and extended its winning streak to two games.

In his return to the first team, Lee Yong-kyu was the perfect sparkplug for the offense, going 3-for-3 with a double, two walks, and three runs scored. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances.

Despite his best performance, Yong-gyu said, “I’m still not sure what’s what.” It was a long absence and he joined the first team for team reasons before he felt ready. Kiwoom called up Lee Yong-gyu at short notice due to Lee Joo-hyung’s hamstring injury.

“I had a bad wrist in camp and had to return home early, so I only played two games in practice,” said Yong-kyu. “Today’s result was good, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It’s still too early to do what I’ve been doing at the plate. So today I just tried to stay focused and hit the ball right. I think I got lucky and it worked out in my favor.”

Lee Yong-kyu said, “(Lee) Joo-hyung, Dawson, and (Lee) Hyung-jong were doing so well that there was no place for me, but I was preparing to play a role when I got the chance. “But I was really lacking in terms of game sense, and I was worried about that,” he said. “I thought, ‘Let’s not do any damage. I was also worried about whether I could hit any in-play pitches, but I think I felt a little bit more comfortable in my first at-bat,” he said.

Despite his three hits and two doubles, Yong-gyu said he still hasn’t quite gotten his bearings. “I don’t have any idea how or when I hit the ball for a double. In terms of sensation, I have no idea right now. I don’t think I’m at the stage where I can say what my hitting is like. I have three hits, but I don’t even know if I have a consistent timing,” he admitted. “It’s the same thing with the sandpitches, and in the first inning, I didn’t get hit by a ball that was coming towards my legs. I don’t even have time to think about the balance,” he added.

Lee Yong-kyu missed time last year with a back of the hand injury. This year, he left camp early with a wrist problem and didn’t even play an exhibition game. “It was almost six to seven months before I was able to play again. During that time, I played about four games for the second team. So I’m not sure how many more games I need to play to feel comfortable.”

After missing the 2022 season due to injury, Lee Yong-kyu struggled for two consecutive years and even considered retirement. However, he held his nerve. He regretted not being able to play more because of injuries than because of his talent. “Last year, I thought about 사설토토 retiring,” Lee said. But it wasn’t because I couldn’t play for a year without getting sick, but because I had a long-term injury, so I decided to try again. I had prepared myself that if I played a year without getting sick and my performance was not good, I would have to retire. I prepared for this year with that in mind. With this injury, they also talked about surgery, but it’s hard to have surgery, take a year off, and then do it again. So I thought, “I have to work hard and hold on. It’s my choice, and if I get hurt again, that’s my fate. I have to do well so that it doesn’t happen,” he said.

Kiwoom, which lost Lee Jung-hoo to the major leagues and Ahn Woo-jin to injury and military service, was considered to be one of the worst teams in the league this year. However, the team has had a breakout season and is currently ranked third.

“The coach is very good at conveying external evaluations to the players in camp, so they all know what to expect,” said Kiwoom’s eldest brother, Lee Yong-kyu. “The younger players are doing their jobs very well. “The older guys are doing a good job of helping when they can without hurting the younger guys as much as they’re working hard, and making sure they don’t get discouraged. (Lee) Won-seok, Hyung-jong, and (Choi) Joo-hwan are doing a great job guiding the younger guys. I feel like I can step back now,” he said, expressing his faith in the team and the juniors.

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