Technical support issues
Choi Won-tae, who is set to play a full-time season at LG, is committed to show better performance than last year by mentioning 150 innings as his goal. He also has personal motivation to become a backup FA. KT's Ko Young-pyo, who is about to become an FA, recently signed a five-year, multi-year contract worth 10.5 billion won with his team. Choi is considered one of the top pre-FA starters.
Choi Won-tae, who is participating in his first spring camp at LG, said, "This is my first time here in Arizona. The weather is nice. It's not too hot, not too cold. I like it." Choi went to Taiwan's second-tier spring camp, which was focused on actual games, rather than the first-tier spring camp when he was in Kiwoom last year.
There are 23 pitchers in the LG camp. There are also new faces, including rookies and transfers. "There are many young pitchers. It is my first time at the LG camp, and I feel like I am getting closer (to my teammates) and I feel like I am adjusting well to the team atmosphere," Choi said. "My juniors are doing well and I feel good."
Choi threw a bullpen session on Friday (Korea time). "I'm trying to take my time. My pitching coach is urging me not to take my time," Choi said. "I did it a little faster last year when I went to Taiwan camp. I threw four balls to practice games at the end of February and went into exhibition games, but I felt a bit pressured as the season ended. I'm going to throw balls slowly this year."
He talked about his disappointment last year. Choi said, "Actually, I was in a little bad shape before the trade, but I think I collapsed by myself (after the trade). I thought too much about it, so I couldn't do good things, and the bad things got worse. I think I collapsed while thinking about my pitching form a lot."
Choi must have been agonizing due to poor performance in the second round of the Korean Series (one out and three runs allowed). "After coming down (from the mound) like that, I cheered for them with the hope of winning. After winning, I made them thankful," Choi said.
Will it be different from the preparation for this season? "Rather than thinking of making up for last year's slump, I am trying to prepare myself to throw full-time without skipping the starting rotation," he said. "My physical strength to play full-time without getting injured is the first priority."
He mentioned sleeping habits to manage his physical stamina. "I need to sleep regularly, wake up regularly, and take good care of my condition," he said. "I pay a lot of attention in the training part." Last year, he had irregular sleeping hours.
LG aims to win its second consecutive Korean Series title this season, and is facing challenges from other teams. Choi said, "I have to throw a lot of innings. The bullpen pitched a lot of innings last year. Chan said, "I need to help the bullpen this year." I agree with that. If the starting pitcher strengthens a little more (than last year), it would be nice if he could throw more when the bullpen is in trouble. I have to throw more than 150 innings."
It's also a preliminary FA season. Choi Won-tae said, "I think it's definitely motivating to do well, but I don't think I can reach it yet. Now I'm just preparing the same. I also think, "Is it FA season?" Chan-kyu said, "I told you to do whatever you want to do comfortably."
As a reserve free agent, Ko signed a multi-year contract (five years, 10.7 billion won). When asked about Ko's contract, Choi said with a smile, "I just don't think about anything. I don't like to be interested in others. I don't have enough time to focus on myself."
Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop noted that Choi's main weapon was plain. "The coach told me to practice change-up more. When I was in the second division as a rookie, I met Choi Sang-deok, a pitcher. He saw me throw change-ups. Coach Choi came to LG this year. He asked the coach to watch change-ups at the camp and he is playing catchball with him. Coach Kim Kyung-tae and coach Kim Kwang-sam also give me a lot of advice," Choi said. He is preparing well for change-ups, which are keywords to overcome sluggishness in the second half of last year.
Friday, February 9, 2024