Ha Joo-seok (29, Hanwha), who was released from suspension after serving a 70-game ban for drunken driving, is pushing for a return to the first team. In his first game in nine months, he exploded for six hits in two days, including a home run.
Ha batted leadoff and shortstop in a Futures League game against the Goyang Heroes on June 6, going 4-for-7 with a home run and three RBIs. After singles to left in the third and fifth innings, he blasted a two-run homer to left-center in the sixth. He continued his four-hit barrage with a single to right-center in the seventh. It was a performance that led to Hanwha’s 18-1 victory.
In the game against Goyang on Oct. 5, his first game back in action in 270 days since the first team game against Changwon NC on Oct. 8 last year, Ha went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. It’s only been two games, but he’s quickly picked up the pace with 11 hits, six doubles, one home run, three RBIs and one walk. Defensively at shortstop, he recorded 10 outs over the two days with nine ground balls and one fly ball. The only error was a throwing error to first base on Park’s infield single in the ninth inning of Game 6.
Before Game 6, Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said of Ha, “His movement was good for someone who hasn’t played for about eight months. Now that he’s started, we need to see more, but the futures report wasn’t bad,” and “He’s been practicing a lot and preparing for it, but the actual experience is different.”
Ha did not play in any of the reserve team’s unofficial practice games during his suspension, instead spending his time on personal training and volunteer work. KBO suspensions only apply to official games in the first and second divisions. He could have taken part in the games out of the public eye, but instead, he focused on personal training to show sincere restraint. Choi Won-ho, who was in Seosan as the head coach of the Futures until May 11, also noticed Ha’s reflection and preparation.
A big part of the reason Choi is in no rush to return Ha to the lineup is the play of ninth-year infielder Lee Do-yoon, 27. Since joining the team in 2015, Lee has mostly played in the second team, with occasional appearances as a backup to the first team since 2021. He started the season in the second team again this year, but received his first first-team call-up of the season on May 20 after starter Oh Sun-jin (34) was hampered by a sore right hamstring. Since the end of May, his chances at the starting shortstop have increased, and he’s been a regular for over a month.
His movement at shortstop has improved with each game. His strong shoulders allow him to throw out deep balls with a no-step and a running throw. His batting average of 2.3-for-4 in 37 games (25 RBI in 107 at-bats) doesn’t stand out, but he’s capable of batting eighth or ninth in the order. Most on the team with six sacrifice bunts. She also leads the team with three stolen bases. “I feel more confident going out there every day. Baseball is really fun these days.”
Coach Choi Won-ho said, “Do-yoon Lee is hitting one hit a day. I don’t expect him to have two hits in the ninth spot in the batting order. It’s fine if he does that. I don’t have any problems with his defense at shortstop. She’s doing 200 percent,” he said, lavishing praise on her. Lee Do-yoon is also a big part of Hanwha’s eight-game winning streak for the first time in 18 years. Choi foreshadowed competition with Lee when Ha Joo-seok returns to the lineup.스포츠토토
However, rookie Lee Min-joon, who is the backup shortstop, has only played three of the team’s 12 games as a substitute after being called up to the first team on March 20. He is not immediately available, so if Ha continues at his current pace, his return to the first team could be sooner rather than later. One of the factors that could hasten Ha’s return is the prolonged hamstring rehabilitation of Oh Seon-jin, who took a ball to the jaw against Kiwoom in Daejeon on May 1 and was removed from the first team the next day.
Oh, who was replaced by a sore hamstring after batting in the 10th inning against Lotte in Daejeon on May 16, served as a designated hitter and pinch-hitter for two weeks. The team needed Oh as a hitter when the entire batting cycle was down. However, he was hit in the jaw by a ball from pitcher Kim Jun-hyung in the eighth inning against Kiwoom on March 1 and received 30 stitches in the wound, and while he was in the rehabilitation center, he also started treating his hamstring.
He played five innings in a Futures League game against Lotte’s second team in Sangdong, Gimhae, on March 13-14, going 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI and two walks, but he is taking a little more time to recover because of his anxiety. Choi said, “Oh Seon-jin seems to be out longer than I thought. I think Ha Joo-seok’s return will be faster.”