Humility? Prudence? “You’re not the best hitter, you’re just the luckiest guy in the league…the moment you start to feel like you’re batting first, you fall apart”
Drums, gongs, and all by himself. Samsung’s Koo Ja-rook put on a one-man show against LG in Daegu on April 17.스포츠토토
Starting in the No. 3 spot in right field, Koo started off with a bang in his first at-bat with a single to right-center field. Each time he had a scoring chance, he showed his fixer-upper instincts. In the third inning, with runners on first and second with the score tied at 0-0, Koo singled up the middle.
In the fifth inning, with a 1-0 lead, he launched a two-run arch. With two outs and LG starter Casey Kelly on a 1B-0S pitch count, she pulled a two-pitch fastball (145 mph) into the right field stands. It traveled 105 meters. Koo added an RBI single to right field in the seventh inning.
Koo, who had 97 hits before the game, added four more to reach the 100-hit plateau for the ninth straight year. Samsung went on to defeat LG 4-2 to finish the three-game midweek series with two wins and one loss.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Gu didn’t make much of the milestone, calling it “embarrassing” to reach 100 hits for the ninth straight year. “Actually, I don’t know how many hits I had,” he said, noting that as a starter, he’s used to racking up triple-digit hits every year. I’m just happy the team won.”
After going 1-for-8 in Games 15 and 16, Koo made his presence felt today, hitting a home run in every scoring opportunity. “I thought my luck was over,” he said, “but when I put it down, I felt like my luck came back.
“There are still a lot of games left, so I don’t know what will happen. “I think I’m the luckiest person in the league right now, not just the batting leader,” he said. “I’ve competed for the batting title before, but the moment I became conscious of it, I fell apart. Maybe with five games left, I won’t be conscious of it. The luckiest hitter will be the batting champion.”
Koo receives a lot of advice from head coach Lee Byung-kyu, who was known as “Red Tomah” during his playing days and was one of the best outfielders in the league with a solid three-beat offense. “I talk to him a lot in the second half of the season. I can’t disclose specifics, but he tells me a lot of really good things. I understood why he hit so well. It helps me a lot with my batting in the second half of the season,” he said.
Now that he has taken over the captaincy from Oh Jae-il, he has even more responsibility to set a good example. “It’s because of the strong seniors like (Oh) Seung-hwan, (Woo) Kyu-min, (Kang) Min-ho, and (Oh) Jae-il that they have taken care of the juniors and created a good atmosphere. Even though I am the captain, I think I need to play a good middle role.”
“When I was younger, I used to frown when things didn’t go my way or take it out on the dugout when my bat didn’t work, but now I realize that doing so can make the younger players feel uncomfortable. I’m reflecting on who I used to be and thinking about what I need to do in the future. I’m thinking about how I can improve the team more than my individual performance.”