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Lotte Coach Joo Hyung-kwang

“The current pitching staff is definitely better than in 2019.”

“Young pitchers who have confirmed their potential in camp, have confirmed their ability to deal with batters in exhibition games.”

Joo Hyung-kwang, Lotte Giants pitching coach

Pitching coach Joo Hyung-kwang (48), who held spring camp wearing the Lotte Giants uniform for the first time in five years since 2019, smiled and said, “I really enjoyed the camp.”

Coach Joo, who met with reporters at Incheon International Airport on the 5th after returning from spring camp, explained the meaning of his smile with a bright expression, saying, “The current Lotte pitching staff is definitely stronger than in 2019.”

Coach Joo, who was a left-handed pitcher representing the history of the Lotte club, left the team at the end of the 2019 season and returned to Lotte after five years.

Coach Joo said, "It is definitely different from the 2019 pitching staff. All of the pitchers who participated in this spring camp have some level of skill. In the past, when I finished spring camp, I thought, 'It will be difficult to put this player in the first team.' “This year, I want to bring all the pitchers who participated in spring training to the first team,” he said, explaining Lotte’s changed pitching ability.

He said, “Overall, the velocity of our pitchers has increased a lot, and their ability to use breaking balls has also improved. The biggest achievement of this camp was confirming that there are many pitchers to use in the first team.” He added, “Last year, Lotte had good results at the beginning of the season, but after the middle of the season, He struggled and finished the season in 7th place. Overload of the pitching staff may have been one of the reasons, but he expected that there would not be a focus on some pitchers this year.”

The head coach would like to add all 20 pitchers who trained together at spring camp to the first team, but in reality, he has to select 7 to 8 players who were eliminated.

We are already working on finalizing the opening entries.

Lotte is expected to have its first to fourth starters with Charlie Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson, a foreign one-two punch, and Park Se-woong and Na Kyun-an.

In the race for the 5th selection, Lee In-bok was ahead, and Han Hyun-hee and Kim Jin-wook are considered as 'alternative selection' candidates.

The bullpen lineup is Koo Seung-min, Choi Jun-yong, Park Jin-hyung, and Kim Sang-soo, and the closer is expected to be Kim Won-joong.

Coach Joo said, “We have decided on about 9 to 10 pitchers who will be included in the opening lineup, but Coach Kim Tae-hyung will decide on 3 to 4 pitchers through exhibition games,” and added, “There is still work to do to select bullpen pitchers who will throw long shots.”

Lotte foreign pitcher Barnes

Barnes, who recently arrived in Sangdong without joining the spring camp to help his wife give birth and raise children, is also subject to inspection by the head coach.

Coach Joo said, "We created a group chat room and updated Barnes' training situation every day. Barnes will take the mound in the evaluation match on the 8th, and we will see and confirm in person then."

Young pitchers will also be tested in the exhibition game that opens on the 9th.

Coach Joo said, “Park Jin, Jeon Mir, Choi Yi-jun, and Woo Kang-hoon threw powerful and fast balls in the spring camp,” and added, “We will see how the young pitchers will compete with batters in the exhibition game.”

If the exhibition game continues as planned by the Hanwha Eagles, the head coach will be able to watch Ryu Hyun-jin (Hanwha) pitch from the opponent's dugout.

Ryu Hyun-jin plans to pitch in the self-evaluation game on the 7th and then make a final inspection during the exhibition game against the Daejeon KIA Tigers on the 12th and against the Busan Lotte Giants on the 17th.

Coach Joo welcomed, saying, “Having a big pitcher like Ryu Hyun-jin return to Korea and pitch will help increase the popularity of professional baseball. It will also be a good motivation for our pitchers,” but added, “It hasn’t been long since I returned to Lotte, so for now, I am better than Ryu Hyun-jin.” “We need to take a closer look at our pitchers,” he said with a laugh.
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