Until May, Sunday games in the KBO start at 2pm. At home, it’s usually over by the time dinner is served. Playing in the daytime isn’t easy, but once the game is over, the players can enjoy some much-needed rest with their families. However, Choi Joo-hwan (35‧SSG) goes home later than other players.
While other athletes are heading home, Choi has one more thing on his agenda. After a grueling winter of track and field training, Choi takes the time to return once a week. The center is usually closed, but the trainers are waiting for him.안전놀이터
Thinking that his lower body was the cause of all his problems, Choi spent last winter working on his baseball skills and strengthening his lower body at the training center. He believes that his body has become lighter thanks to the intense training. This is why he continues to visit the center every week. Of course, since it”s the season, he doesn”t train as much as he does in the winter. Instead, he focuses on recovery training and follows a separate program to keep his progress going.
“I do recovery and memory training. The trainers told me that this is important,” he explains. “You train hard over the winter, but you don’t keep up the momentum, so the effectiveness of your training diminishes over time,” he explains, “so you set aside time each week to recover and maintain a certain level of performance.” It definitely works. Choi explains that it definitely works. He believes that his strong performance this season is a result of being in good shape.
After turning heads last year with his endless slump, Choi has completely reversed the graph this year. Through 27 days and 42 games, he is batting .280 with nine home runs, 24 RBIs, and an OPS of .849. He’s been hitting even hotter, with three home runs in his last four games and seven RBIs in his last five.
Choi, who became a free agent ahead of the 2021 season, has more difficult memories of the past two years in an SSG uniform. Choi is now in his mid-30s, and many people believe that his skills are not as good as they used to be. However, he was confident in himself and thought that if his body returned to normal, he would be able to perform as well as before.
Choi Joo-hwan has the highest home run pace of any second baseman in SSG’s history ⓒSSG Landers
Choi said, “I hit some home runs in 2021. Compared to the number of games (116), I don’t think the number of home runs dropped. Instead, the number of hits decreased. Suddenly, there was a shift (for me). I lost about 20 hits because of the shift. If you look at my at-bats, my batting average could have been better,” he reflected, “but it wasn’t at all last year. I wanted to show that it wasn’t my real self,” he said.
And Choi is showing that confidence with his performance. With his lower body feeling better, his center of gravity and rotation are back to their former glory. That’s why his bat is spinning again. The lighter body is also evident in his defense. He doesn’t feel awkward when he flies and turns. His defense at second base is also proving to be much better than last year.
“Age is just a number,” Choi emphasizes. “When you’re older, you tend to get suspicious, but that’s not the case. Nowadays, blood and other tests show your age. They say I’m still in my 20s,” he laughs. Biting his lip to prove that he’s not aging, Choi is on pace for the best home run pace in the history of SSG second basemen.