For Doosan Bears outfielder Kim In-tae, the April 7 game against the Gwangju Kia Tigers was one of the most unforgettable days of his 2023 career. In that game, Kim severely injured his shoulder while attempting a head-first slide to second base after a failed sacrifice bunt. It would be four months before he was able to return to the first team.
“Looking back on that moment, I was very hard on myself. I still think, ‘If I had made the bunt, if I had slid differently, I wouldn’t have been in that situation,'” he says. At the end of the day, it’s all my fault. I can’t blame anyone else. I think it’s important to prepare well to avoid such a result when the same situation comes again.” Kim In-tae said.
Furthermore, Doosan coach Lee Seung-yeop had been planning to give Kim a steady amount of playing time since the beginning of the season. His hitting in the exhibition games and early season wasn’t bad. It’s more frustrating because it was a clear opportunity for him.
“I felt like I was hitting well at the beginning of the season through the exhibition games and the opening game, so I had high expectations for myself. However, I was disappointed that I was injured so early and the rehabilitation period was longer than expected. It was a season where I didn’t know what to say,” he sighed.
Still, there were some bright spots in the second half of the season. Kim gradually improved his batting average through August (.216), September (.250), and into October (.318). He was particularly hot in Game 1 of the wild-card decider, going 3-for-4 with a home run, RBI, and a walk. While it was somewhat overshadowed by the team’s loss, Kim’s performance was enough to get us excited for the 2024 season.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the first team and faced a pitcher, and I felt like I was slow to react to the ball. I tried to adapt, but by the end of the season, I could feel it. I was more disappointed that it was too late. In fall baseball, the team still lost, so I didn’t help much. My shoulder is still not 100 percent, so I want to be more prepared and help the team win next season.”
Kim will also be motivated by the fact that Lee Seung-yeop, who was away from the team for the 2023 season due to rehabilitation, will remain with the first team for the 2024 season. During the team’s 11-game winning streak in the middle of the season, Lee told reporters that he received a congratulatory message from Kim In-tae while he was still rehabbing. 보스토토 도메인
Kim In-tae said, “I think it’s because the coach is comfortable with the players and treats them well that they feel more comfortable contacting him. I sent him a congratulatory text message when we won 11 games in a row in the middle of the season, but we lost the next day, so he was upset (laughs). Next year, I want to stay in the first team and borrow a lot of hitting tips from the coach,” he smiled.
Kim In-tae, who joined Doosan in 2013, is entering his 30s and is about to enter his 12th year in the organization. It’s a bit late, but it’s time to shed the label of competition and make the leap to the main roster.
“I’m still competing for 12 years (