1538G 372 Awkward pinch-hitting for a home run hitter…”I’ll recover quickly” [SPO interview].

“My first goal now is to recover from the injury quickly and get back into the starting lineup.”

안전놀이터KT Wiz catcher Park Byung-ho, 37, has been sidelined recently with a calf injury. He has appeared as a late-game substitute in 13 games, starting against the Suwon NC Dinos on Nov. 11 and ending against the Sasik Lotte Giants on Nov. 27.

While losing Park to the starting lineup is a loss of power for KT, on the bright side, they have a reliable right-handed pinch-hitter in the late innings. Park is proving to be a force to be reckoned with as a pinch-hitter, batting .300 (3-for-10) with one home run and five RBIs in that span. Whenever the team needs a run late in the game, he is always there to deliver.

Park Byung-ho has been pinch-hitting recently due to a calf injury. Byun Hye-mi Reporter

“At first, I didn’t know how to prepare for a pinch-hitter, so I didn’t stand still from the first inning. I move around a lot and try to share the rhythm with the (starting) players. Fortunately, I didn’t feel nervous about pinch-hitting. Even if I’m not pinch-hitting, I feel like I’m in his lineup, and I’m preparing for how to handle it.”

Park expressed his gratitude to the juniors who have been filling the void during his injury absence. He especially thanked Moon Sang-chul and Oh Yoon-seok for their support. Oh is batting .397 (29-for-73) with three home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.114 OPS (on-base percentage) in the second half of the season after starting at first base during Park’s absence. Moon is batting .259 (71-for-274) with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a career-high 0.705 OPS this year.

“It’s not just Oh Yoon-seok, there are a lot of juniors who are working really hard but haven’t been able to showcase (their skills) due to lack of opportunities,” Park said. I’m really happy that Oh Yoon-seok and Moon Sang-chul are doing well right now, and they’re doing very well as a team, so that’s very good, and I’m cheering them on.”

Oh Yoon-seok (pictured) has been playing first base lately, perfectly filling the void left by Park Byung-ho. KT Wiz

Moon Sang-chul’s (pictured) long bat has given KT a boost this season when Park Byung-ho has struggled with injuries ⓒKyung Hye-mi Reporter

In 100 games this year, Park is batting .278 (88-for-317) with 10 home runs, 61 RBIs and an OPS of 0.756. While the cannon hasn’t been blazing like it did last year when he won the home run title with 35 homers, he’s done his job in clutch situations, as his .346 batting average with runners in scoring position ranks sixth in the league.

“I hit a lot of home runs last year, so I wanted to do well this year, but I didn’t hit any home runs, so it’s actually a bit of a disappointing season,” Park said. “The good thing is that I’ve been injured, but I’ve been able to make up for it by getting RBIs when I need to score runs. Still, if I don’t have a long hit, my strengths will be diminished, so I will have to overcome that.”

“Junior Oh Yoon-seok is filling in well, and the team is winning a lot of games, so I’m not impatient,” Park said, but added, “My first goal is to recover from my injury quickly and get back into the starting lineup. “We’re in the middle of a title fight and I don’t think we should be looking too high. My goal is to focus on every game and accumulate a lot of wins, and I hope to play fall baseball in a high position,” he said, revealing his main focus for the rest of the season.

Park Byung-ho wanted to quickly recover from his injury and join the starting lineup. ⓒKT Wiz

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