Lee Kang-cheol (57) and Yang Hyeon-jong (35, KIA), who had a priestly relationship with the KIA Tigers 16 years ago, met again at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Korean national baseball team.
Coach Lee Kang-cheol finished the national team training held at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, USA on the 19th (Korean time) and said, “I also started at KIA for the first time (with Yang Hyeon-jong), but I did not expect to see it in the national team like this. I am also very excited. I’m with you”, revealing his affection for his former student.
Yang Hyeon-jong was nominated by the KIA with the first overall pick in the 2nd round of the 2007 KBO Rookie Draft. He made his debut on the first team stage right away in the first year, and the pitching coach at that time was manager Lee Kang-cheol. Coach Lee Kang-cheol, who left KIA at the end of the 2012 season, took the helm of KT in 2019 after serving as Nexen (now Kiwoom) 1st team head coach, Doosan 2nd team coach안전놀이터, and 1st team chief and pitching coach. He made use of his experience as a pitching coach to make KT a starting kingdom and led them to win the first regular season and Korean Series in 2020. Recognized for his leadership, he was appointed to lead the Korean national team in the WBC tournament.
In the meantime, Yang Hyeon-jong has grown into a great pitcher representing Korea. He recorded 159 wins, 102 losses, 9 holds, an ERA of 3.83, and 1814 strikeouts in 2161⅓ innings in 455 KBO career games. As of the end of the 2022 season, he left a significant mark in the KBO, ranking 3rd in league career wins, 6th in innings, and 2nd in strikeouts.
On this day, in the first bullpen pitching after joining the national team, Yang Hyeon-jong stably used 43 balls while coach Lee Kang-cheol and pitching coach Jeong Hyeon-wook watched. In particular, director Lee Kang-cheol couldn’t hide his satisfaction with a big smile at his former student who had grown up. Yang Hyeon-jong also shared similar feelings.
Yang Hyeon-jong said, “The coach told me that I grew up a lot during pitching today, so I remembered a lot of the old days. In 2009 or early 2010, I stayed with the coach until the end and did a lot of hell training in various aspects such as defense and training. The memories of that time come little by little. “Now, as a national team veteran, I have a lot of roles to play, so I think the coach was a little pleased and looked at my pitching. I felt like I was back,” he smiled.
The teacher, who recollected old memories, expected a role as a mentor for young players as a disciple who had grown up quickly. Director Lee said, “The catchers who received it from the bullpen today also say that the veterans have a little less strength, but the first pitch is complete, and the younger players have strength, but the first pitch is uneasy. Use that combination well to play the game. I think we need to manage it. Players like (Yang) Hyeon-jong, who have age, experience, and experience, should lead (young players) well.”