The Lotte Giants, who made the postseason five years in a row from 2008 to 2012 and turned Busan into a “ball city,” have only made the postseason once in 11 seasons from 2013 to this year.
For franchise star Jeon Jun-woo, 37, who plays exclusively for Lotte, the semi-playoffs between SSG Landers and NC Dinos are a source of envy.
Speaking to reporters after attending the inauguration ceremony for new Lotte head coach Kim Tae-hyung at Lotte Hotel in Busan on April 24, Jeon said, “Of course I’m watching the postseason. I am very envious of the postseason itself,” he said.
He added, “I’m in touch with Son Ah-seop (who plays for the NC) almost every day. It’s really nice to see my favorite brother doing well,” he said, adding, “There’s Hwang Jae-gyun (of KT WIZ, who went straight to the playoffs). I promised him that if my favorite brothers’ teams, NC and KT, meet, I will go directly to Changwon or Suwon.”
Son, who had been protecting Lotte’s outfield alongside Jeon Jun-woo, switched to NC after free agency talks with Lotte broke down after the 2021 season.
Once nicknamed the “Heart of the Giants,” Son has now become a mental support system for NC‘s younger players and has been active this fall.
“He said he was a little nervous because it’s his first postseason in a long time,” said Jeon, “but he’s confident because of his good performance this season.”
Lotte, which failed to advance to the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, signed “championship hitter” Kim Tae-hyung to a three-year, 2.4 billion won contract.
“The goal is to win the championship,” Kim declared at the inauguration ceremony.
For Jeon, who is now entering the second half of his career, these are words that make him shudder.
“I haven’t announced my free agency yet, so I’m with Lotte for now,” said Jeon, who will be eligible for free agency after this season. I thought it would be polite to say hello to the new manager.”
Regarding Kim, he said, “He’s been to the Korean Series seven times and won it three times, so he’s a master, and it’s an honor to be with him.” He added, “I remember him speaking with a strong tone. He has charisma,” he said.
Jeon’s future is undecided.
The player, who signed a contract worth up to 3.4 billion won during his first free agency four years ago, said he will consider various options during his second free agency.
When asked if he would like to stay with Lotte if possible, he said, “I think it’s better to keep my mouth shut because it could affect my contract.”
Kim asked him to hold onto Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong, who will be eligible for free agency this year.
Jeon Jun-woo also sees no reason to leave the team if Lotte builds the strength to challenge for the championship.
“Whether I sign with Lotte or another team, I have a clear goal of winning the championship. I just have to wait and see what happens,” he said. 슬롯게이밍