New outfielders for NC Dinos gunning for championship in 1st season together

유지호 / 2022-01-26 15:12:12
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baseball-players
▲ Park Kun-woo of the NC Dinos (L) holds up his jersey with the team's general manager, Lim Sun-nam, during his online introductory press conference at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 26, 2022, in this photo provided by the Dinos. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

▲ Son Ah-seop of the NC Dinos (C) is flanked by his manager Lee Dong-wook (L) and captain No Jin-hyuk during his online introductory press conference at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 26, 2022, in this photo provided by the Dinos. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

▲ Son Ah-seop (L) and Park Kun-woo of the NC Dinos pose in their jerseys during their online introductory press conference at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 26, 2022, in this photo provided by the Dinos. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

baseball-players

New outfielders for NC Dinos gunning for championship in 1st season together

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- With rich deals in their bags, two new outfielders for the NC Dinos said Wednesday they have one common goal in their first season together: to deliver a championship.

As one of the big spenders this offseason in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the Dinos signed Park Kun-woo and Son Ah-seop to lucrative multiyear contracts in free agency.

On Dec. 14, Park signed a six-year pact worth 10 billion won (US$8.35 million). And 10 days later, Son agreed to a four-year contract worth 6.4 billion won. They were formally introduced as members of the Dinos at an online press conference Wednesday.

Park, 31, had spent his entire 13-year career with the Doosan Bears. Son, 33, had been with the Lotte Giants since his debut in 2007. He was born and raised in the Giants' home city of Busan, too.

By signing Park early into free agency, the Dinos braced for the imminent departure of their own free agent outfielder, Na Sung-bum. Na signed a six-year, 15 billion won contract with the Kia Tigers on Dec. 23. And one day later, the Dinos got Son.

Ultimately, they lost the most coveted player in this winter's free agent class but signed two of the top outfielders available.

Neither is close to being the power hitter that Na has been. But they can contribute elsewhere.

Park and Son have been among the KBO's premier contact hitters. On the all-time list for hitters with at least 3,000 plate appearances, Park is third with a career .326 average, and Son is fourth at .324. Son is also the active leader and ninth overall with 2,077 hits.

The Dinos won their first Korean Series title in 2020 but missed out on the postseason in 2021. Both players said they want to take their new club to the promised land again.

"I will try to drive in as many runs as I can and set up RBI opportunities for others," said Park, who has played in seven Korean Series and won three titles. "I will also look to add some speed to this lineup. Obviously, the goal is to win a championship."

Unlike Park, Son has never come close to winning a title. He hasn't even been to the Korean Series.

"At least Kun-woo has a few championship rings. You don't understand how desperate I am to even get to the Korean Series," Son said. "I want to play in as many games as possible to help the club."

Park has a few Doosan connections on the Dinos. He was teammates with the Dinos' third base coach, Lee Jong-wook, as a rookie. Later in his career, Park teamed up with current NC catcher Yang Eui-ji and reliever Lee Yong-chan for the Bears' dynastic run.

"They told me to just keep doing things as I've always been doing and not change anything," Park said of advice from Yang and Lee.

Given their proximity to each other, the Dinos and Son's former team, the Giants, have formed a regional rivalry over the years. Son said he was looking forward to being on the other side for a change.

"Fans in this region are the most passionate bunch in the league, and I can't wait to go out there and play in front of them," Son said. "There's added pressure to being a member of this ball club, but that's a privilege. I am thankful for this opportunity."

(END)

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