MOON Impressed by Noh’s fighting spirit

“I’m so proud of him, it touches my heart”

Since taking over as head coach of the Hanwha Eagles on April 4, Kim Kyung-moon has been using every day and every moment to keep his players’ spirits high. He is often seen before and after games, reaching out to younger players who might find it difficult to play with him and giving them words of encouragement.

Kim’s return to the KBO comes six years after he stepped down as the NC Dinos manager in June 2018. During games, he keeps up with the latest trends in the league and Hanwha players.

Hanwha’s sudden departure of former head coach Choi Won-ho on March 26 left the team in a state of disarray. However, the team quickly stabilized after the appointment of Kim Kyung-moon, who boasts 896 career wins in the first team.

Kim has gotten Hanwha off to a strong start with six wins, five losses, and one draw until the team’s last match against SSG Landers in Daejeon on Nov. 16. Hanwha is currently in seventh place, but with a five-game gap between them and fifth-place SSG, they are not in a position to give up on their fall baseball dreams.

However, Hanwha will not be able to operate at 100 percent capacity due to injuries to foreign slugger Jonathan Peraza and pitcher Ricardo Sanchez. A tough battle for the top spot is expected before the All-Star break early next month.

For now, Kim Kyung-moon doesn’t seem to be concerned about the loss of power. He said he will focus on doing his best to win every game for the fans.

He made a bold decision to rest captain Chae Eun-sung, who was not hitting well against SSG on the 16th. It turned out to be a win-win for both the team and the player, as Moon Hyun-bin, who replaced Chae, went 1-for-2 with an RBI.

“Sometimes you have to keep giving players chances so that they don’t lose confidence when they don’t hit, and sometimes you have to take care of them if they are physically tired,” said Kim Kyung-moon. “Chae Eun-sung was playing first base and designated hitter, and since I came to Hanwha, she has been playing right field a lot lately, so I thought she might have been tired, so I gave her a break.”

Kim Kyung-moon then brought up the name of Noh Si-hwan. He praised Noh’s dedication and sense of responsibility and couldn’t hide his smile.

In the 2023 season, Noh hit .298 (153-for-514) with 31 home runs, 101 RBIs, and a .929 OPS in 131 토토 games. He won the home run and RBI titles, and it was said that he completely broke out of his prospect shell.

Noh has been solid in the 2024 season, batting .270 (76-for-281) with 16 home runs, 48 RBIs, and an OPS of .816 in 69 games as Hanwha’s No. 4 hitter. While his current numbers may not seem stellar due to the high expectations placed on him, his home runs are tied for sixth in the league and first on the team.

Manager Kim Kyung-moon hasn’t minded that Noh is batting .190 (8-for-42) with two home runs and two RBIs in his last 10 games. Not only does he not have a replacement for Noh, but he also seems impressed with Noh’s fighting spirit.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Kim Kyung-moon. I was surprised to see him here,” said Kim, adding, “He’s playing top-notch defense at third base, and he has a big heart for the team.”

“I know that if a young player gets hurt (by a ball) and I’m the designated hitter and not the third baseman, the lineup is going to be different,” he said, emphasizing, “When I see him limping, it touches my heart.”

Hanhwa will ultimately need the power of Roh Si-hwan to make the leap to the middle of the pack. If Peraza returns from injury, Chae Eun-sung regains her batting touch, and Noh finds his form, the Eagles’ batting lineup’s destructive power and texture will be competitive.

If Roh Si-hwan’s bat really catches fire, Hanwha’s challenge for fall baseball under Kim Kyung-moon will have a green light.

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