A National Shortstop’s Trials and Tribulations, A Commander’s Call to Tiny Giants

“I’ve been there.”

Samsung Lions manager Park Jin-man wrapped his arms around Kim Ji-chan, a “little giant” whose energy has been dampened by a string of recent errors. As a former top shortstop in South Korea, he can understand his protégé’s feelings. Park urged Kim to take the pressure off himself and get back on his feet.안전놀이터

Kim has been anchoring Samsung’s center field since his rookie season after being selected 15th overall in the second round in 2020. He has been playing steadily since his rookie year and has overcome obstacles both big and small, but this time he has hit a rocky patch, with frequent mistakes causing him a lot of heartache.

This was especially true during the Lotte Giants’ game against the Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League 2023 at Sajik Stadium on April 28. Kim committed three errors in one game alone. In the first inning, he made a throwing error when handling Ko Seung-min’s infield grounder. In the fourth inning, he made a throwing error on a grounder by Yoo Kang-nam and a throwing error on a grounder by Park Seung-wook. Kim Ji-chan’s error allowed all runners to reach base.

Kim Ji-chan is a key player for the Lions, but he is still in his early 20s. The situation was psychologically devastating. Watching from the dugout, the manager ordered a substitution to protect Kim’s mental health, and on the 29th, he removed him from the first team roster. Park gave Kim time to regroup.

Park said, “Kim Ji-chan had a situation like that not only yesterday, but also a few days ago. I felt bad that he was still able to play. It’s more psychological than technical. If he continues to play, it could be a burden. I think he needs to clear his mind, so I expunged him from the roster,” Park said, explaining his decision to send Kim to Futures.

Park continued, “Kim Ji-chan himself has to overcome it. He has a big psychological problem. He’s been showing good form and then this happened recently. There is a psychological burden. He keeps shrinking. He seems to be under pressure. I asked him to be confident in the match, but he is still under pressure,” said Kim.

It’s especially poignant because it’s something he experienced as a player himself. Park, who boasted outstanding defensive skills that earned him the title of “National Shortstop,” also had to go through frequent trial and error in his early years. “I had the same experience as Kim Ji-chan. I didn’t show it, but there was a lot of psychological pressure, especially when I was throwing. I think all infielders have experienced that. It’s important to get over it quickly. Kim Ji-chan also needs to strengthen his mind,” he said, giving heartfelt advice.

Finally, Park said, “I didn’t have a meeting with Kim Ji-chan when I left him off the roster. But we talked a lot while he was in the first team. I’m sure he knows my intentions,” Park said, cheering him on to get back on his feet.

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