“I can do it, I can do it.”
Those were the words of former Doosan Bears outfielder Kook Hae-sung, who suffered an ACL injury four years ago on May 27, 2018, while running the bases against the Samsung Lions in Jamsil, Korea, as he entered the dugout.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Kook Hae-sung led off with a double to right field, and when the next batter, Heo Kyung-min, tagged up and tried to steal third base, Kook slipped on a fly ball to right field, and his left knee buckled as he ran back to second base.
It was obvious at first glance that the injury was serious: Hae-sung was clutching his left knee in pain and couldn’t get up. As Samsung’s tagout ended the inning, Doosan coaches and medical staff rushed to his aid. Everyone on the field tried to stop him from getting up.
“At that time, we had to stabilize him because his knee was severely bent, and it was impossible for him to stand up, but he shouted, ‘I can do it, I can do it.’ Sometimes when you’re seriously injured, you don’t think rationally. It was very heartbreaking and sad,” recalls the on-field official.
Kook was diagnosed with an ACL injury and returned to the first team after a lengthy rehabilitation. In the 2019 season, Kook made a lasting impression with a pinch-hit double in the bottom of the ninth inning that clinched a dramatic victory in the team’s final regular season game.
However, after struggling to break into the first team, Kook Hae-sung applied for Future Free Agent status after the 2021 season. While he wanted to find a new home and take advantage of new opportunities, he was unable to secure a Future Free Agent contract and instead signed with the independent Seongnam MacPires.
After about a year and a half of independent play, Kook finally returned to the professional ranks. The Lotte Giants picked him up. On May 22, Lotte officially announced the signing of Kook Hae-sung. “As a switch-hitter who can produce long balls, Kook Hae-sung will help us strengthen our outfield depth and utilize our pinch-hitting resources,” the team said.
When contacted by MK Sports after the Lotte announcement, Kook Hae-sung said, “I visited Sajik Stadium last Saturday (20th) for a tryout, and I signed a contract immediately after meeting with the club. I had another surgery on my knee (right), which was injured during a game last year, and I recovered well. The team wanted to check that part well through the tryout. Team manager Sung Min-gyu said, ‘Congratulations on joining Lotte. Let’s do well,'” he said.
There were quite a few colleagues at Lotte who knew Kook Hae-sung. “There were some players who were more connected than I thought. (Yoon) Myung-joon, I knew him from Doosan for a long time, and (Ahn) Kwon, who I played with. I didn’t know (Go) Seung-min, but it turns out he’s from Gunsan (laughs). Coach Kim Dong-han, who is in the second team, also had a long history of struggling together in the Doosan second team. (Yoo) Gang-ran and (Cha) Woo-chan used to greet each other in the bedroom,” he explained.
Despite a longer-than-expected stint as an independent player, Kook Hae-sung was determined to extend his career. The Seongnam MacPires team and coaching staff helped him a lot.
“Thanks to the consideration of coach Shin Seung-sik and the coaches, I have been able to digest training and actual matches without any problems. If I were younger, I would be excited to return to the professional stage, but since I’m older and my skills are still lacking, I’m not excited and I’m going to go back to my roots and play baseball desperately.”
Kook Hae-seong is a long-hitting player, which is what the team wants to show Lotte fans. He is also confident that he can handle defense and baserunning without any problems.
“You all know my baseball colors. My number one priority is hitting for power, but I think I can give you 100% in the field and on the bases. I will show my power at the plate and on the field. I remember hitting the decisive pinch-hit hit for Doosan when they won the regular season four years ago, and I hope to make several decisive plays for Lotte as well.” 메이저사이트
Kook Hae-sung stuck his tongue out at the enthusiasm at Sajik Stadium, which he visited during his tryout. Kook Hae-sung hopes to show that he can live up to the enthusiasm of Lotte fans.
“I was surprised to see a full house at Sajik Stadium during my tryout. I had never seen such an atmosphere outside of a baseball field. I realized that if I play baseball well, I can only be a part of the best team. I’ve never been a great player, but I’ll do my best to live up to the expectations of Lotte fans. I will do my best to live up to the excitement of Sajik Stadium.”