“It’s true that he complained of discomfort, but as a senior, there are other qualities he should have besides skill. I wanted him to stay with the original team, and I was disappointed in him for that. I hope he has time to mature.”
NC Dinos head coach Kang Myung-ho indirectly revealed that the reason behind Park Gun-woo’s (33) expulsion from the first team was due to his request to be replaced by Tae-upsung, who deviated from the ‘original team’.
In response to Park’s request to travel or be excluded from the game, the NC coach and coaching staff believed that Park’s personal position took precedence over the team’s judgment, and they made a decision for the team based on the principle of ‘exclusion from the first team’.
When veteran outfielder Park Gun-woo, who ranks third on the KBO’s all-time batting average list, was removed from the first team roster on Thursday, it raised a lot of eyebrows. The fact that the target was NC’s center fielder and veteran outfielder was the part that attracted attention.
In particular, there was a lot of interest in the reason for the deletion as Park had not shown any obvious signs of injury, decline in physical condition, or difficulty. And on the 4th, as a reflection of this interest, many reporters gathered before the game against NC Kiwoom in Gochuk.
Coach Kang Shin-ho, who appeared for a pre-match press briefing, was overwhelmed by the attention, but he calmly explained the reasons for the decision.
“I hope you don’t read too much into it,” Kang said, before explaining that Park Gun-woo had complained of some discomfort here and there during the game last week. This means that Park’s request to be excluded from the game was the reason behind the deletion.
“However, as a senior player, I have the idea that I should have not only the skills but also the virtues,” Kang said, adding, “As I always said when I became a coach, I wanted to avoid any behavior that deviates from ‘One Team’ if possible, and since I have such a direction, I was very disappointed in Park Gun-woo in that regard.”
Park is one of the most sophisticated hitters in the KBO, with a career batting average of .324 in 1106 games. His career batting average ranks second among active players behind Ki Uh Jung-hoo (0.339) and third among all-time players behind the late Jang Hyo-jo (0.330, formerly of Samsung).
Even this season, Park’s key batting stats – 0.286 batting average, 0.385 on-base percentage, and 0.431 slugging percentage – are not as good as they were in the past, but they still rank first and tied for first on the team.
As a player in such a great position, Kang explained that he wanted him to take more responsibility for his playing time.
Instead of being suspended, Kang ended the first half of the season with a roster scratch. It may have been a difficult decision for the team and for the head coach. “I felt that Park Gun-woo needed some time (to mature), so I thought he might need to go and think about it on his own, so I adjusted the roster for that,” Kang said, adding that he hoped Park Gun-woo would “reflect on his own behavior.
When asked by the press if there was any aspect of the game that conveyed the message that the team is unconditionally prioritized over the individual, Kang confirmed, “I think you can look at it that way.”
It will be up to the players on NC’s Futures C team and Futures N team to decide when Park will make the roster. “It’s not for me to judge, but the coaches of the C team will watch the training and games and report back to me,” Kang said, “and I’ll listen to the players’ thoughts, what they think about our team, and make a decision.”
In the end, it was the performance against the Suwon KT Wiz on the 2nd that was the decisive factor. “Sunday was probably the decisive one,” Kang said, but he was reluctant to go into specifics. On that day, Park Gun-woo was replaced in the top of the eighth inning after recording a multi-hit game. It’s safe to say that Kang and his coaching staff were disappointed that Park requested the substitution.
However, Kang made it clear that the decision was made to send a message to the team, and not to “discipline” or “tame” the players 꽁머니지급.
“It’s definitely not about ‘taming’ or ‘disciplining’ the players,” Kang said. “I think it’s more of a message that I shouldn’t deviate from my principles as I have always done.”
Kang did not meet with Park to make this decision. “We didn’t meet outside,” Kang said, adding that he informed him of the decision in a firm tone.
Some have pointed to Park’s behavior, as well as the kind of “stat management” and absenteeism that some veteran players have been accused of practicing, as the reason for the situation.
When asked directly by reporters what he thought of players who choose to sit out a game after a multi-hit game or depending on the opposing starting pitcher, Kang was perplexed but had a clear principle.
“I think the player shouldn’t ask for it,” he said, “it’s the coaching staff’s judgment, and ultimately, the final decision is the coach’s.” “It’s not always the case that if you’re feeling well, you can continue to play, or if you’re not feeling well, you have to sit out or wait. In the end, I think the existing principles are important,” he said, providing clear criteria.
The expectations are not for Team Park, but for Team NC. “We have young and good players in the outfield, so I think they will use this opportunity to make good performances,” Kang said, “and I believe they will make good performances because they have prepared for it.”
In closing, Kang had a strong message for Park Geon-woo.
“As I said earlier, I hope that Park Gun-woo will have a little more time to mature, and he represents Korea. There are definitely friends who play baseball because of him. I want him to play (baseball) with that kind of heart.”