– Inherited the captain’s armband from Jeon Jun-woo
– Helped new players and newly recruited players adapt
– Two goals to break after 5 years of sluggishness
– This year to obtain FA qualification after the Lotte contract is over
– Improving individual skills is more important than ever
In sports, the captain’s responsibility is great. It’s because you have to think about the future of your team as well as yourself. In baseball, where a relatively large number of people participate in the game, the weight of the ‘captain’ is heavier. What is the feeling of the new captain Ahn Chi-hong (33), who has been in charge of the Lotte Giants since the 2023 season? He said, “I don’t feel a lot of pressure about having to lead the team,” and “I will set an example and become an example as a senior.”
An Chi-hong, who joined KIA in the 1st round of the 2nd round in 2009, signed an FA contract with Lotte in 2019 for up to 5.6 billion won in ‘2+2 years’ and transferred. During his 10 seasons at KIA, he played mainly as a second baseman and played an active role as a top-notch player in the league, recording a batting average of 0.300, 100 homers, and 586 RBIs in 1124 games. He also experienced three Golden Glove awards (2011, 2017, 2018) and two Korean Series championships (2009, 2017).
An Chi-hong performed at a high level even after transferring to Lotte. In the first year of his transfer, he completed adaptation with a batting average of 0.286, 8 homers and 54 RBIs, and then in the 2021 season, he wielded a batting average of 0.306, 10 homers and 82 RBIs. His batting average (0.284) dropped slightly in his last season, but he hit 14 home runs and showed off his slugging power. Based on this performance, he inherited the captain’s armband from Jeon Jun-woo. Kim Won-joong (30) and Park Se-woong (28), who are in their late 20s and early 30s in the team, had to play the role of middle leaders, and Lee Hak-joo (32) and Park Seung-wook (30), who are a little older than them, have only been at Lotte for a year. It was difficult to entrust the heavy responsibility. As a new argument, An Chi-hong was qualified. An Chi-hong said, “I hope my experience can help the team.”
An Chi-hong has already been captained once at KIA. At the time, KIA was operated under the system of acting manager Park Heung-shik due to the voluntary resignation of coach Kim Ki-tae and pitching coach Lee Dae-jin. In this situation, Ahn Chi-hong inherited the captain’s armband from Kim Joo-chan. An Chi-hong said, “I was captain during the regular season at KIA, and at Lotte, I took on the captain’s armband from the spring camp, and the responsibility is much greater.”
An Chi-hong has two roles to play as captain this year. First of all, it is necessary to get rid of the sluggishness that has been in the lower ranks for the past five years and lead the team well to achieve results in advancing to ‘fall baseball’. In addition, as a large number of new players are recruited, an atmosphere of ‘harmony’ must be created. Lotte recruited Yoo Kang-nam, Han Hyun-hee, and Noh Jin-hyuk as free agents in the Stove League, and embraced six veteran players who had been released. An Chi-hong said, “Since the spring camp, all the players have left their seniors and juniors and made a good training atmosphere by saying ‘Uh X Uh X’ to each other. It seems that the new players also accepted the club culture well and melted well into the team.”
For An Chi Hong, this year is also very important for him as an individual player. This is because the contract with Lotte ends at the end of the 2023 season, and FA qualifications can be obtained again. An Chi-hong said, “With the FA requalification, of course, as a player, I have a lot of greed for performance,” but “I don’t usually set specific goals, such as getting a few hits. If you set a goal, it is rather hindered because unnecessary power is applied when you stand at bat. He said, “I will do my best with a comfortable mind.”
An Chi-hong is expected to play second base, the main position, again this year. The keystone combination with newly joined shortstop Noh Jin-hyeok became important. An Chi-hong said, “(Roh) Jin-hyeok and his brother also played baseball for a long time, so there is no particular difficulty in matching each other. We talked a lot before the game, so we understood each other’s tendencies to some extent.” Regarding this, Noh Jin-hyuk also said, “I’m older, but I’m a bit cautious about dealing with (Ahn) Chi-hong because I’m the captain of the team. It’s not that uncomfortable. We play a lot with each other to relieve tension before the game.”
An Chi-hong is also aiming for the second baseman’s Golden Glove this year. An Chi-hong was nominated for the Golden Glove based on his great performance in the 2021 season, but unfortunately the award was not awarded. Although he had better batting performance, he gave up the Golden Glove to Jung Eun-won (Hanwha), who was evaluated as slightly better in defense. If An Chi-hong receives the Golden Glove this year, Lotte will produce a Golden Glove winner in the second baseman category for the first time in 13 years since Cho Seong-hwan in 2010.
An Chi-hong said,안전놀이터 “This season, with the goal of fall baseball, the team has been training hard since spring camp without missing anything, such as running on base and defending on defense. He said, “I will lead the team well and repay the fans with good results so that the goal can become a reality.”