SSG’s Choi Jeong-jeong reacts after striking out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the third inning during the baseball game between the LG Twins and SSG Landers at SSG Landers Field in Michuhol-gu, Incheon, on August 20, 2023.
“I hope to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP), but I’m worried.”
(37-SSG Landers), who returned to the semifinals (best-of-five) after shaking off a hamstring injury,
was visibly nervous. Even for a veteran with 73 career postseason games and numerous Korean
Series under his belt, this year’s fall baseball has been overwhelming.
Choi will start at third base in the first game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Semifinals against
the NC Dinos at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on Nov. 22.
A notable name in SSG’s lineup announced ahead of the game was Choi, who was sidelined on the
13th with a hamstring injury that kept him out of the first team for the final stretch of the regular season.
Fortunately, the injury was not serious. SSG head coach Kim Won-hyung had previously announced
that he would add Choi to the postseason roster, saying, “He needed about a week to recover from
the injury,” and he was included in the semi-playoff roster.
Despite not being 100%, Choi is a key player for SSG. With 2133 hits, 458 home runs, and 1,454
RBIs in his KBO career, Choi has already hit 29 home runs and 87 RBIs this year.
In the postseason, he’s been a fixture, hitting 12 home runs. Last year, he hit .476 with two home
runs and nine RBIs in the Korean Series to help SSG win the overall title.
The SSG offense is only as good as Choi’s bat. “We need her to do something in the postseason,” Kim said.
“I felt a little tightness in my thigh,”
Choi said before the first semi-final, “and as the weather got colder, it led to the injury. I think the
fatigue (on the injured area) accumulated during the long races.” “Luckily, (the team) went straight to
the semi-playoffs instead of the wildcard decider, which gave us more time to prepare. I took it easy and focused on my recovery and prepared for fall baseball.”
However, Choi admitted that there is a lot of pressure ahead of the semi-playoffs. “I don’t know if it’s
right to play right now,” he said. “In the regular season, if you don’t play well today, you can play
well tomorrow. But the postseason is not like that. So I have a lot of worries.”
“In fall baseball last year, I had the feeling that I had to do better (as the leadoff hitter), but in the
postseason this year, the pressure is different,” he added.
Choi hopes that Han Yoo-seom and his teammates, who were on fire at the end of the regular
season, will make a big impact in the postseason. “I hope that (Han) Yoo-seom will continue his
good form into the postseason, and I hope that Park Sung-ho and Choi Ji-hoon will have ‘crazy performances,'” he said.
When a reporter said, “Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself, and you should just play well today and win the Daily MVP award,” Choi smiled wryly and said, “I hope so.” 스포츠토토맨