Willingness to laugh at ‘27,000 km forced march’… “You have to be strong mentally.”
- on Feb 16, 2023
Yang Eui-ji (36), a catcher for Doosan Bears in the professional baseball league, has been on a plane several times in the past month. On the 19th of last month, he flew to Sydney, Australia, where he started his individual training, and on the 1st of this month, he joined Doosan’s spring camp.메이저놀이터
Yang Eui-ji would have built her body in Sydney without any additional movement in previous years. But this winter was a different story. He had to move to Tucson, Arizona, USA to prepare for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) next month.
It was the beginning of the forced march. First of all, Yang Eui-ji headed to Seoul from Sydney on the 12th. After resting for one day, they departed for Tucson on the 14th. He had to go through LA as there were no direct flights. When he combined all the distances he traveled between Seoul and Sydney and then across the Pacific Ocean, it was a great move of nearly 27,000 km.
It was a forced march that must have exhausted his body and mind, but Yang Eui-ui’s face was full of composure ‘as always’. Yang Eui-ji, who met at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson on the 16th, when the baseball national team convocation training began, said, “I have never moved this much (in a month). Still, (airline) mileage accumulated a lot.” He continued, “I didn’t sleep on the plane yesterday because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to adjust to the jet lag. Fortunately, I got a good night’s sleep today and I’m feeling fine.” He even smiled.
Yang Eui-ji is the hostess of the national team recognized by others. Starting with the Premier 12 in 2015, the WBC in 2017, the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games in 2018, the Premier 12 in 2019, and the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, he wore a mask at major international competitions. He also played 31 games for the national team.
In this WBC, Yang Eui-ji was the first name that Lee Kang-cheol (57) coach and Jo Beom-hyeon (63) technical committee chairman came up with. As can be seen from the nickname of a fox wearing a bear’s mask, this is because Yang Eui-ji was the only catcher with both experience and skill. Yang Eui-ji, who is well aware of this, said, “Becoming a national representative has been a dream since I was a child. I’m just honored to be chosen like this every time. I will lead his younger brothers with the mindset that this is the last international competition.”
Korean baseball is not free from the recent evaluation that the mound is weak. The fact that Kim Gwang-hyeon (35, SSG Landers) and Yang Hyeon-jong (35, KIA Tigers), born in 1988, are still the main pitching staff proves this. There are young players such as Lee Eui-ri (21, KIA) born in 2002 and So Joon So-jun (22, KT Wiz) born in 2001, but they still lack the experience to be entrusted with an important role.
However, Yang Eui-ji said, “From my point of view, I don’t think our mound is that weak. If young players go out and throw with enthusiasm, and I receive it well, I think good results will come out,” he said with strength.
On this day, Yang Eui-ji brought out the word Japan a lot. It was because I remembered the pain of bowing my head consecutively in the Korea-Japan match at the 2019 Premier 12 and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Yang Eui-ji said, “I remember losing big in the last two matches against Japan. Thinking of that time, I want to prepare well and pay it back.” “Japanese baseball has a lot of game videos. We will try to analyze this in more detail,” he added.
If Korea passes through the second round, it will move to Miami, Florida, USA, to play in the semifinals. It’s like another difficult march for the 37-year-old veteran catcher. However, Yang Eui-ji blocked the worries around him with a determined word, “I will endure with mental strength.”
Yang Eui-ji, who arrived with a tired face the day before, digested all of his defense and batting training that day. He stayed until the end, turned the bat, and packed up his belongings. The fact that the WBC started in earnest was felt from Yang Eui-ji’s dependable back.