Lee Yong-gyu, excluding the 1st team camp… Will he survive this year’s selection competition?

In preparation for the 2023 KBO League regular season, 10 clubs are holding overseas spring camps for the first time since the corona pandemic. Whether or not the first team is included in the spring camp list is a standard that can determine to some extent who will be the starting pitcher this season. If a player whose name is widely known is not included in the first team spring camp list, it can be expected that it may be difficult to guarantee a starter this year. 

One of the players in this position this spring camp is Kiwoom Heroes veteran outfielder Lee Yong-gyu. Kiwoom’s first team, including coach Hong Won-ki메이저사이트, Lee Jung-hoo, Ahn Woo-jin, and three foreign players, has been holding a spring camp since the 1st in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. However, Lee Yong-kyu was listed on the Kaohsiung spring camp roster led by second-team coach Seol Jong-jin. 

The reason Lee Yong-gyu was not included in the Arizona spring camp is interpreted as the extreme sluggishness last season. Last year, Lee Yong-gyu was placed on the disabled list from May 12 due to a micro-fracture of the shoulder blade. He only made 86 appearances, with a total of 41 days without first-team entries. 

Personal performance was also poor. He had a batting average of 0.199 with no home runs and a 21 RBI OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of just 0.547. It was the first time since 0.129 in 2004, when he was with the LG Twins, when he made his professional debut, that his batting average was not even 20%. The WAR (Based on the KB Report), which represents the contribution to victory compared to the substitute player, was negative at -0.59. A view was raised that Lee Yong-kyu, who was born in 1985 and had a 37-year-old season, was in danger of his career. 

After finishing the regular season in 3rd place, Kiwoom started in the semi-playoff and advanced to the Korean Series by defeating KT Wiz and LG consecutively. In the Korean Series, SSG, who won the regular season ‘Year to Wire’ championship, had to be satisfied with the runner-up with 2 wins and 4 losses after achieving a 2-2 match. Kiwoom’s fall baseball propaganda was highly evaluated. 

This year, Kiwoom’s competition for starting outfield is expected to intensify. Last year’s MVP Lee Jung-hoo, who announced his advance to the major leagues after the season, won one spot, and will compete for the other two spots. In addition to the existing outfielders, Lee Hyeong-jong, who was recruited as a free agent for Futures, and Lim Byung-wook, who was discharged from the management, were added. Lee Hyeong-jong and Lim Byung-wook are digesting Arizona’s first-team spring camp. 

After the end of the 2020 season, Lee Yong-gyu could have been forced into retirement due to the sadness of being released from the Hanwha Eagles. However, while playing for Kiwoom in 2021, he succeeded in reviving with a batting average of 0.296, 1 ​​home run, 43 RBIs, an OPS of 0.765, and a WAR of 0.282, showing off his likeness.

With a huge salary cut and the exclusion of the 1st team spring camp, Lee Yong-gyu faced an ordeal. It is noteworthy whether Lee Yong-gyu will rebound like in 2021 and contribute to Kiwoom’s first win.

The team’s postseason performance is also reflected in the players’ salary negotiations. Even if a player is somewhat sluggish in the regular season, the width of the cut may be adjusted to a smaller side or frozen. However, Lee Yong-kyu’s annual salary was 300 million won this year, with a 100 million won cut from last year’s 400 million won. Lee Yong-kyu, who received a 25% annual salary cut, was named in the disgrace of being the number one cut in the team. Although Lee Yong-gyu reversed himself to some extent in fall baseball, it is proof that the sluggishness of the regular season was very serious. 

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