10,000 years of backup→release→30-year-old entrance test→minimum annual salary…now an indispensable key to Lotte

He’s in his 12th year of professional baseball, but he’s never had a day when he couldn’t smile.

That was the case for Lotte Giants infielder Park Seung-wook, 31. Park had high hopes when he donned the uniform of the SK Wyverns (now the SSG Landers) in the third round of the 2012 rookie draft after graduating from Daegu Sangwon High School. However, he only played in one game for the first team in his first year, and only 15 games the following year. After being released from military service as a social worker, he returned to the team, but his talent never really blossomed. After hitting for the Futures (second team), he fell silent in the first team.

Park Seung-wook joined the KT Wiz on May 20, 2019, in a two-for-two trade. KT’s need for a left-handed infield backup was great. That year, Park spent 223 at-bats in 101 games, his longest stint in the first team since joining the professional ranks. In the 2020 season, Park continued to serve as KT’s infield backup, helping the team make its first-ever trip to fall baseball. But that was it. As KT bolstered its infield depth with the signing of Shin Bong-ki Oh Yoon-seok, Park’s spot in the lineup became more limited. After appearing in just eight games for the first team in 2021, Park was placed on waivers in October of that year and faced the biggest crisis of his career.

He didn’t give up. A month after the waiver announcement, he went through a tryout and donned a Lotte uniform. The deal was for the KBO’s lowest salary. Park had just turned 30, but the opportunity to play baseball in the KBO was daunting enough. However, he was more concerned than excited. There were question marks over whether the 30-year-old infielder, who hadn’t made much of a mark since his professional debut, would be able to contribute to the team.

In the exhibition games leading up to the 2022 season, Park raised expectations with a stunning display of power, but his bat cooled off after the start of the season, and he suffered a knee injury just a month into the season that required a four-week diagnosis. His presence, like that of his two predecessors, seemed to fade.

After returning from rehab, Park Seung-wook served as a backup in the outfield. As shortstop Lee Hak-joo, who was expected to fill the void left by Dixon Machado, struggled, Park’s days in the lineup began to increase. Park stuck to his guns and kept his spot in the infield. Eventually, he was re-signed for the 2023 season at an annual salary of 80 million won, a 266% increase.

When Lotte signed free agent Noh Jin-hyuk ahead of the season, Park’s position seemed to falter again. However, Park stepped up to the plate in an all-around utility role in the infield. On the 23rd against the LG Twins in Jamsil, he hit a game-winning two-run double against closer Go Woo-seok to rescue the team from a +10 win-loss margin.메이저사이트

Still, Park is not a “full-time starter. Once the injured Noh Jin-hyuk returns, Seung-wook Park will likely revert back to an infield utility role. He’s done his best whenever the team has needed him, so expectations are high. For the Lotte bench, the focus will be on maximizing his ability to play any position in the infield except catcher. As Lotte looks to rebound, Park Seung-wook is now an indispensable key.

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