Monday, December 24, 2007

The Ballad of Hong Song-heon

In 1999, Hong Song-heon started what was thought to be a long and storied career in the KBO. He won rookie of the year in '99 and is a two time Golden Glove winner(2001 and 2004, respectively. He also won the All Star Game MVP award this past season. Big things have always been expected of Hong. Until now.

2007 was an injury riddled season for the Doosan Bears' captain. He managed to appear in only 80 games and suffered career lows in almost every offensive category(.268 with 5 homers and 39 RBI). His manager also wants him to move from behind the dish to first base or outfield. This did not sit well with Hong. "I want to play catcher and retire as a catcher, but it's not easy with the Bears because the team requires me to contribute as a hitter,'' said Hong. Imagine, a baseball team asking a player to contribute as a hitter. It's hard enough to play in the field. They shouldn't be forced to also swing sticks at the same balls they try to catch.

The situation wasn't helped by this article. “I have crossed the rubicon,” said Hong. I can only imagine that this is translated, poorly, from Korean. Also from the article,"Being a catcher is the reason he plays baseball. He wanted to recover his dignity." I think hitting .268 and playing baseball poorly should have done more to his dignity more than being asked to change positions.

It continues, "The team has a right to negotiate salary with Hong by the end of January. Hong’s heart, however, has already left the team. " I hope Hong's family removed any sharp objects and long cords from his house.

My guess is that he gets dealt to either KIA or Lotte. If he can get himself healthy and in shape, I don't see why he can't contribute. His salary will be a stumbling block. He's paid 310 million won. Roughly 320k American.

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