“I like our coaching staff”
The Lotte Giants officially announced on the 20th of this month that they have appointed their 21st manager Kim Tae-hyung, signing a contract for a total of 2.4 billion won 스포츠토토($600,000 down payment and $600,000 annual salary) with a contract period of three years, signaling a new beginning.
Lotte spent a total of 17 billion won in the free-agent (FA) market before this season to bolster the infield’s “centerline” and starting lineup, which have been pointed out as weaknesses, with Yoo Kang-nam, Noh Jin-hyuk, and Han Hyun-hee. However, the investment and results were not necessarily proportional. Lotte started the season as one of the favorites to win the KBO, but after the second half of the season, the team finished in seventh place, with manager Larry Sutton stepping down due to health concerns.
After the regular season ended, Lotte moved quickly. The organization faced its most urgent task: finding a new head coach. During this process, Kim Tae-hyung was one of the most talked about names. And for good reason. He was the most recent manager to take the field and had the distinction of being the first KBO team to reach the Korean Series (KS) in seven consecutive years. There was no reason for Lotte not to be linked to Kim Tae-hyung.
And the rumors became reality. On the 20th, Lotte officially announced the signing of Kim Tae-hyung, and on the 24th, they held an inauguration ceremony at Lotte Hotel in Busan, signaling the departure of ‘Kim Tae-hyung-ho’. On the 25th, he held a meeting with the first and second teams, excluding ‘reserve free agents’ Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong, at the Sangdong Stadium in Gimhae, and immediately began conducting the final camp. Although no official announcement has been made yet, the Kim Tae-hyung coaching system is moving towards ‘perfection’.
Lotte’s appointment of Kim Tae-hyung as manager was accompanied by a total of eight coaching staff members, including acting manager Lee Jong-woon, who took over from Sutton on July 22, as well as first-team hitting coach Park Heung-sik, Jeon Jun-ho, Choi Kyung-chul, Jang Tae-soo, Jung Ho-jin, Kim Dong-han, and Ryan Long. Kim Tae-hyung has been asked about his coaching staff since his inauguration, and the organization is going smoothly.
Head coach Kim Tae-hyung meets with the Lotte Giants players.
No official announcement has been made as the postseason schedule is not over. However, it has been confirmed that Joo Hyung-kwang will wear the Lotte uniform, joining Kim Min-jae, Ko Young-min, and Kim Joo-chan who have worked with Kim in the past. In particular, Kim Min-jae is expected to take on the role of “chief coach” who will closely assist Kim Tae-hyung. Manager Kim Tae-hyung did not deny the addition of the coaching staff during the second day of training at the Gimhae Sangdong Stadium on the 26th.
Coach Ko Young-min served as the first-team defense and infield coach at Doosan from the 2019 to 2022 seasons alongside Kim Tae-hyung, and Coach Kim Joo-chan, who played for Lotte as a player and finished his active career with the KIA Tigers, also started his career as an outfield defense and infield coach at Doosan in 2021.
Regarding the composition of the coaching staff, which is being reported daily, Kim Tae-hyung said, “Since I became the manager of Lotte, there were coaches who said, ‘I want to work with you.’ “I had a phone call with them, and some of them said yes, and some of them talked about conditions,” he said, laughing heartily.
Kang Min-ho of the Samsung Lions and Kim Min-jae of the SSG Landers.
Kim Joo-chan and Ko Young-min at the Doosan Bears./
Kim Min-jae, like Kim Joo-chan, was with Lotte during his playing days. He served as Lotte’s defense coach in the 2017-2018 season before returning to Lotte through Doosan and SSG. In the case of Kim Min-jae, the idea of giving him the head coaching job was there from the beginning. “He has a lot of experience in defense and baserunning, and I think he’ll talk to the other coaches about what he’s felt so far,” said Kim Tae-hyung when asked if Kim would also be in charge of defense.
A somewhat surprising choice is Coach Joo Hyung-kwang. Joo is a legendary pitcher who made his debut with Lotte in 1994 and played as a “franchise” star until his retirement in 2007, compiling a career record of 87 wins and 82 losses with a 3.83 ERA in 386 games. Even after his playing career ended, he never had a chance to work with manager Kim Tae-hyung, as he only coached at Lotte. “It’s not that we didn’t have a relationship at all. I’ve seen him from time to time,” and added, “Our coaching staff is fine. It’s good,” and gave a thumbs-up.
Until the end of the postseason schedule, Kim Tae-hyung will lead the team with the existing coaches. The team will train in the mornings and the coaches will fill in the gaps in the afternoons. Until this week, the players in the first and second teams will be in the finalization camp, and from next week, the team will start preparing for the 2024 season in earnest, excluding the ‘veteran’ players and including prospects who played in the first team this year.