In the top of the eighth inning, with the Doosan Bears holding a comfortable 5-0 lead, there was a sudden roar from the away fans, as if a come-from-behind home run had been hit.
It was the three letters of a name that appeared on the scoreboard: Yang Ji, the pinch-hitter.
Yang Yang-ji (36, Dusan) came in as a pinch-hitter with no outs in the top of the eighth inning against the visiting Kiwoom Heroes at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 22 and hit a solo shot.
He took advantage of a two-pitch fastball from Yoon Seok-won and sent it 125 meters for his 10th home run of the season.
“My legs were shaking (from the crowd),” Yang said after the game. They were calling my name really loudly,” he said, adding, “I was nervous because I hadn’t batted in a long time, but I’m happy that the result went well and we won.”
Yang was scratched from the first team roster on Aug. 8 due to side pain.
Without him, Doosan slumped to three wins and seven losses in 10 games, putting a red flag on fifth-place Suwon.
“Even when I was there, (the performance) was up and down,” he said, emphasizing that the team wasn’t slumping because of his absence, “but I think we’re doing well. “We have 40 games left, so it’s just a matter of time. We’ll do our best until the end.”
“We’ve had a lot of games (recently) where we’ve fought well and then it went badly. I think the young guys will get stronger through this process, so the next game, the next game will be better, and we will go to fall baseball.”
Yang Ji is looking forward to getting some game action after coming off the bench for the midweek three-game series against Kiwoom.
“My body is almost recovered. I was cautious about coming right after not playing a game (in practice), so (manager Lee Seung-yeop) said it would be okay to start by the end of the week, so I’m preparing for that.”
Yang’s comeback home run was the 15th time in his career he has hit double-digit home runs in 10 consecutive seasons.
“It’s an honor to be a veteran in baseball for so long,” Yang said, “but I still have a long way to go to catch up with (Kang) Min-ho, so I’m satisfied that I’ve caught up a little bit (with this record).”
Kang Min-ho, 38, of the Samsung Lions, has 317 home runs in 2,204 career games, while Yang has 238 home runs in 1,673 career games, making them the “big guns” of Korean professional baseball.
“When I was watching Min Ho, I thought, ‘I want to be a player like that. I wanted to have the same personality, so I learned a lot from him and talked a lot about baseball, which helped me a lot. I think I’ve been able to maintain my skills for a long time because I aimed to be like him,” he said.
When Yang looks at Kang Min-ho, a catcher two years his junior, what he admires most is his ability to stay in shape and play.
“It’s hard to keep up with Minho’s records. He has played more than 2,000 games as a catcher. I admire that.”
“Still, I have more time left on my contract, so I think I’ll play a little more (games),” he laughed. 토토사이트