“It feels like I’m starting baseball all over again.”
The wide smiling face remained the same. However, the darkness and fear of ‘that day’ are engraved in my mind.안전놀이터
Lotte Giants Lee Min-seok (19) finally stretches out again.
On the 26th, I met Lee Min-seok at the Lotte 2nd team finishing camp site in Sangdong, Gimhae. A good story came out, “I finally started playing catch.”
“I had a CT scan at the hospital in mid-October and received an OK. Now I’m only playing catch at a distance of 20m. My schedule is to rest one day and throw one day, but today is the fourth time. It’s only been a week and half a day.”
He was the club’s next-generation star. He has a huge physique of 1m90, an overwhelming fastball, an unexpectedly cute smile, and a personality that doesn’t shy away from opportunities to show off his charm.
Even in high school, he was not a pitcher who pitched many innings. In his debut season, he played 27 games (1 start) and 33⅔ innings, recording 1 win, 1 loss, 5 holds, and an earned run average of 5.88.
His velocity is faster than when he was in high school. On his professional stage, he became a hot topic by throwing a whopping 155km against Chae Eun-seong of the Hanwha Eagles.
But the unbearable pain in his elbow tormented him. It was also the opening game.
Lee Min-seok appeared as a sure-win in the bottom of the 8th inning in Jamsil’s opening game against the Doosan Bears on April 1 this year. However, he felt pain after 27 pitches in 1⅓ innings, requested a replacement, and voluntarily resigned. And he went straight to the operating table.
With his strong pitching, he advanced to the sure-to-win group in his second season, but was forced to leave the team due to injury right after the start of the season.
Lee Min-seok said, “I would have kept throwing, but the pain was so bad that I couldn’t throw. I felt bad. As I was going down the mound, I thought, ‘This won’t be easy,’ but when I went to the hospital, I found out that my elbow ligaments were damaged.”
After a detailed examination, I underwent Tommy John surgery (medial elbow ligament surgery) two weeks later. The necessary ligaments were harvested from the left wrist. During the surgery, even the bone fragments were removed cleanly. Lee Min-seok added, “I wasn’t sick after the first season, but I received consistent care, but it just came sooner than expected.”
And it was a long time of rehabilitation. Since I can’t use my arms, all I can do is run and lift weights in areas that don’t put too much strain on my lower body.
He is a second-year high school professional pitcher who throws a 155 km fastball. I can’t even imagine the despair he felt when one day he suddenly became unable to throw the ball.
“I was very frustrated, but now that I can throw the ball, I feel good. Now it’s my turn to get stressed about not throwing the ball well… but I think I’ll survive. I wonder if this is how I felt when I first started playing baseball. It feels good.”
Watching the performance of Yoon Dong-hee, his motivation for joining the team, in the first team, the sight of him laughing with Jo Se-jin and saying, ‘I don’t know life’ became a hot topic. There was also enthusiastic support for the Asian Games in which Dong-hee Yoon participated.
I also had a feeling of envy. He said, “(Yoon) Dong-hee is a player who has no choice but to be good,” but added, “I thought, if only I hadn’t gotten hurt. These days, even if I get Tommy John, I’m a third-rate player, so I’m planning to aim for a managing director position rather than an active player.”
We stayed and trained in Sangdong until early October. About 200 days after being injured, he caught the ball again.
If I’m no longer in pain, my goal is to get in shape in February or March next year and pitch in the Futures League in April. Lee Min-seok laughed, saying, “I don’t have any worries about being arrested. I exercised a lot more than before.”
“The team atmosphere has changed a lot since coach Kim Tae-hyung came. I’m trying to adapt. I haven’t seen him yet because I’m in the rehabilitation group. I feel at ease. I want to show my skills once I recover.”