The home run king of the tournament, no second time’s the charm

LG Twins’ Song Chan-ui hopes to break the home run jinx in exhibition games.

The LG Twins are holding their spring training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the second year in a row.

At the beginning of the camp, Song Chan-ui practiced intensive batting practice in the batting cage with hitting coaches Mo Chang-min and Choi Seung-joon. Since last year, the two hitting coaches have been working with the younger hitters one by one to focus on their hitting skills.

“At the camp last year, I said, ‘Home run king of the exhibition game, can you do it this year,’ and it’s been a year,” hitting coach Mo Chang-min told reporters, laughing. He was referring to Song Chan-ui.

Song hit six home runs in 12 games in the 2022 World Baseball Classic, batting 2-for-8 with two doubles. His breakout performance put him in the spotlight, and in the regular season, he batted just 3-for-6 (17-for-72) with three home runs in 33 games.

Last year, Song hit three home runs in 14 games in exhibition play, but didn’t do much in the regular season. In 19 games with the first team, he batted just 5-for-6 (1-for-18).

Coach Mo said, “You can’t fail twice in a row,” and I said, “I wouldn’t call last year a failure. You need to go out there and get at least 100 at-bats and see what happens.” Mentioning that he was not given a chance in the first team.

Song has changed his batting form. He switched from a leg kick to a toe-tap swing in the middle of last year. Coach Mo gave him some advice and told him to watch videos of major league players. “Look up Miguel Cabrera’s swing,” he said. “You have to work twice or three times harder to change (the leg kick) to a toe tap,” he encouraged.

Hitting coach Mo Chang-min said of Chan’s change in hitting form, “Actually, his leg kick was fine, but he switched to a toe tap. He changed it himself. I think he changed it for the sake of hitting accuracy, as the toe tap is more stable.” “I think it’s good that he’s trying to change his hitting form, because he’s trying to do something. He’s trying to do something, so it’s fine. Chan-ui has power, so he can hit enough home runs with the toe tap. It’s good to have it,” he said.

“We switched from leg kicks to toe-taps late in the season last year,” said QC coach Lee Ho-Joon. At the end of the season, it was evaluated well (by the second team). I was able to hit to the right side and it got better.”

“You can also think about alternating between leg kick and toe tap depending on the ball count. You can start with a leg kick, and then after two strikes, you can go for a toe tap.” In a favorable count, you use a leg kick, and in an unfavorable count, you counter with a toe tap.

Meanwhile, Yoon Kyung-yup has been giving Song Chan-ui a chance in the first team this season as the No. 1 outfield backup. Song will be the backup to the outfield lineup of Kim Hyun-soo, Park Hae-min, Hong Chang-ki, and Moon Sung-joo.

During camp, Yeom gave Song some hitting advice, saying, “I’ll put him in Group A, where the seniors are batting, so he can see and feel (Kim) Hyun-soo and (Oh) Ji-hwan batting from the side.”

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