The story of a veteran driven to the brink of retirement after being released and enjoying a ‘second heyday’ after nesting in a new team always stirs the hearts of fans. This season, veteran bullpen pitcher Kim Sang-soo (35, Lotte), who plays a key role in the ‘Attack of the Giants’, is the main character.
As of the 16th, Kim Sang-soo recorded an average ERA of 1.88 with 3 wins, 5 holds and 1 save in 19 games, serving as a strong backbone for the Lotte mound. He has good numbers, but in terms of content, he is even more valuable because he is a net exhauster who continues the good flow and cuts off the bad flow. On the 16th, against Hanhwa in Daejeon, Lotte played Seung-Min Koo at second base without a run at the end of the 8th inning with a 1-0 lead, but Seung-Min Koo’s 3rd ball became a ‘head shot’ and was ejected. At this time, Kim Sang-soo hurriedly climbed onto the mound and struck out subsequent batters in a row and extinguished the fire in a hurry.
Regarding the situation at the time, Kim Sang-soo said in an interview with Dong-A Ilbo ahead of the game against Daejeon Hanwha on the 17th, “I was resting and then suddenly went out, but as a bullpen pitcher, my heart and mind are prepared so that I can get on the mound someday and throw. He wasn’t embarrassed at all.” Coach Larry Sutton also highly evaluated his importance in the team, saying, “Every time (Kim Sang-soo) pitches, he plays a role in breaking the flow of the opponent’s batting line and bringing it to us.”
Lotte fans are also applauding generously for the veteran who joined the team, such as ‘the best recruited player this season’ and ‘just a light constant’. In particular, recently, when Kim Sang-soo was on the pitch, the cheering phrase, ‘momentum’, increased dramatically. Recently, on the club’s broadcasting channel, when asked by a junior about how to control tension on the mound, Sang-soo Kim vigorously replied, “Movement!”, and this remark was talked about by fans. There are even fans who anticipate that Kim Sang-soo’s exclusive ‘cheering product’ using ‘momentum’ will appear. Kim Sang-soo said, “While going through difficult times, luck is important, but I also thought to myself, ‘I have to become a person with momentum.’” he laughed. At the same time, he expressed his gratitude to the fans, saying, “Recently, I seem to be gaining more momentum thanks to the fans’ ‘support for momentum’.”
Last winter, I had a harsher time than anyone else. In 2019, when he was a member of Kiwoom, he set the record for the most holds (40) in a single season and became the hold king, but the following year he had disappointing results. He moved to SSG in 2021, but there was no sign of a rebound, and last year he only appeared in 8 games. In the end, right after the season, he requested a release from SSG without exercising his free agent extension option.
He says that at the time he was seriously contemplating his retirement. Kim Sang-soo said, “I just thought that it would be difficult to start again because there were no results. He was mentally exhausted and exhausted,” he confessed.안전놀이터
Also, the support of the people around me was a great strength. Kim Sang-soo said, “Oh Joo-won, (Lee) Taek-geun, and (Park) Byeong-ho, all told me to try for just one more year. I read a lot of books to control my mind, and my wife, who is a ‘mental teacher’ in particular, was a great source of strength for me.” explained the process.
Lotte’s Kim Sang-soo fights against Doosan in a match held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 1. Courtesy of Lotte
After changing into a Lotte uniform, he is showing off his peak skills. At this rate, this season is highly likely to surpass the 2017-19 season, which was the heyday, and become the ‘best year of personal career’ since debut (2006, 2nd round, 15th overall). However, Kim Sang-soo lowered his body, saying, “It’s still early in the season, so it’s too early to call it ‘the best year’.”
As much as he has passed through difficult times, he said, “Now I am happy just standing on the mound.” At the same time, he cautiously talked about ‘the third championship of his team’. He said, “In 2006 (then Samsung) and 2022 (then SSG) when I was a rookie, my team won the championship, but I only applauded from a distance. Despite the many congratulatory calls, in fact, I was not at ease.” At the same time, he promised, “I want to contribute to the championship of my team, Lotte, this year.”