“I’m only 50% there” Baseball’s life is a drama…the save man is endlessly hungry

SSG Landers Ha Jae-hoon (33)’s return to the batting order is proving to be a godsend. He came up big in Gwangju’s 2-1 win over the KIA Tigers on April 6. In the bottom of the first inning, he hit a two-run double that dropped in front of the center fielder. In the eighth inning, he made a diving catch on Choi Hyung-woo’s line drive to right-center field.

He received a first-team call-up on May 24 after rehabbing from an injury and has been hitting hot. In nine games, he is 9-for-21 with two home runs, four doubles, nine RBI, six runs scored, five runs batted in and a 1.405 OPS. He’s also showing off his clutch ability, going 4-for-4 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-3 at the plate. He fills the void left by injuries to Shin-soo Choo and Kang-min Kim perfectly. In particular, he is a reliable right-handed hitter and a great addition to the team.

Ha’s baseball life is a drama. In 2008, he entered the American minor leagues as a catcher and tried his hand at pitching, but failed. In 2016, he turned his attention to the Japanese independent league as an outfielder and was signed by the Yakult Swallows. However, he was not re-signed after a year, so he returned to the Nippon Independent League and was named a SSG 2019 Rookie of the Year.

In the KBO, he switched back to pitching and became a closer, posting an impressive 5-3 record with 36 saves and a 1.98 ERA. However, a shoulder injury forced him to give up pitching and return to hitting in 2022. He hit six home runs and showed natural power, but his lack of refinement prevented him from becoming a starter.

During the off-season, he showed the grit to play for Geelong Korea despite being in his 30s. In 21 games, he went 3-for-6 with 11 home runs and an OPS of 1.146. His confidence in Geelong raised expectations for the 2023 Spring Training, but he injured his shoulder while fielding in practice and was forced to leave, but he never gave up and returned to the lineup.

Coach Kim Won-hyung said, “As soon as he came up, he did a great job and erased the worries of the right-handed batsmen. He has power 스포츠토토, but his precision is poor. I send him out to bat expecting a single, but he has good contact and sees the ball well. He seems to have put in a lot of effort. He has a lot of power. He can’t be pushed around by anyone. If he can be precise, it’s great. I felt like Jae-hong Park,” and applauded.

He also explained the process of returning to the batter’s box. “I had a shoulder injury, so I couldn’t pitch, so I couldn’t switch to batting. He showed me a video of himself in Yakult and said, ‘I was this good, I pushed out all those bouncy black players. During the All-Star break, I asked him to hit the bat, and his batting power was really good,” he laughed.

But Ha is not satisfied. “I’m not there yet. I’m only doing about 50 percent of what I thought I could do. I’ll show you the next 50%. The 50% are the ideal plays I’ve been picturing. Even the ball I caught today, I need to hold it steady without diving. I need to be able to play this kind of detailed baseball.” He put forth his homework.

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