The transition from catcher to pitcher was an adventure. It was a challenge he chose by putting down a lot of things he had done so far, and the result was a great success. This is the story of Kim Jae-yoon (33), the closing pitcher of KT. But he still has a lot to accomplish. Kim Jae-yoon, who has protected the team with the ‘iron wall shield’ by over 30 saves for two consecutive years, is looking at the ‘save king’.
The schedule of the KT spring camp, which was held at the Tucson Kino Sports Complex in Arizona, USA, from the 1st of last month to the 6th of March (Korean time) has been completed. Kim Jae-yoon, whom we met at the camp, said, “This year, the weather was the coldest ever, so it was more difficult for the players to take care of their bodies. He seems to have caught a cold once in a while,” and looked back, saying, “I’m not 100% satisfied as I thought, but I’m in good shape and I’m satisfied that I finished the camp well without any injuries.”
Kim Jae-yoon, who became the eldest brother of KT’s pitching staff, signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and dreamed of playing in the Major League (MLB), but returned to Korea in 2012 due to a difficult life in the United States. After performing his military service due to his active duty, he wore the KT uniform in the 2015 draft. KT encouraged Kim Jae-yoon to become a pitcher because of his strong shoulder and fast ball ability, and the result was a great success as he grew into a reliable finisher for the team.
In fact, Kim Jae-yoon has been on the mound as a KT closer since 2016, recording 21 saves for the first time in the 2020 season and 32 saves in the 2021 season, contributing to KT’s first integrated championship. Last year, he achieved 33 saves and exceeded 30 saves for two consecutive years, ranking second in the save category after LG Ko Woo-seok (42 saves). This year, he aimed for the ‘save king’. 안전놀이터
Kim Jae-yoon said, “The team’s players are in such a good state, so I think that if I overcome the season well without getting sick, my grades will follow.” In fact, there are many junior closers who pitch very well to other teams. However, I want to be greedy for the ‘Save King’ title this year. If I go without injury, it will be possible enough,” he expressed strong confidence.
This confidence is thanks to the trust of the head coach Lee Kang-cheol. Director Lee said early on, “The finish is Kim Jae-yoon.” He said, “I feel good about myself because the director trusted me, and I have a strong thought that I must repay the trust. So he is working hard to be more confident in raising his pace 100% from the beginning of the season.” Since it can change at any time, we will continue to work hard not to miss it during the season.”
In fact, this year is more important to him than ever. After the season, he became a free agent (FA). If you do well this year, this is an opportunity to be rewarded for your efforts so far. It’s a great motivator. Kim Jae-yoon said, “It is the FA season. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care. However, there are many records I want to set, but when I think about it, the most important thing is not to get injured.” As it is an important season, I am most wary of injuries.”
Preparation is also smooth. In this camp, I refined my breaking ball more sharply. KT fans promised to win. Kim Jae-yoon said, “I made the breaking ball sharper at camp. You have to throw it in the actual game to know, but it seems important to check the reaction of the hitter,” he said. But there were games where I couldn’t pitch, and the team could have gone higher, but I apologize to the fans for not being able to go up because of me. This year, I will do really well so that I can give you the joy of winning one more time.”