“I’m so sorry for Sutton, we have 36 Gs left” Acting Lotte under Lee Jong-woon, won’t give up PS

“It’s embarrassing…but someone has to do it.”

After the resignation of Larry Sutton, Lotte will play out the rest of the season under acting head coach Lee Jong-woon. Lee Jong-woon, who led Lotte as first-team coach in 2015, is back at the helm after eight years as acting head coach. They have 36 games left to play.

Sutton resigned on Nov. 27 Sutton was absent from the KT game due to health issues and informed the club of his intention to resign. On the 28th, the club accepted his resignation and switched to acting head coach Lee Jong-woon. The Lotte Day has been in a slump lately with seven straight losses, but they are still in seventh place, five games behind fifth-place KIA, and are not at the point of giving up completely.

Lee Jong-woon met with reporters after the rain-canceled game against Hanwha in Daejeon on the 29th and said, “I’m embarrassed to suddenly take over as acting coach, but I have to do my best in the position I’m given. Someone has to do it. If I can help the team, I should do it.”

Here’s what he had to say to the media.

-On why the team hasn’t been able to build on its early season momentum.
It’s a pitching imbalance. The pitchers are pitching well, but I think we’re missing some details on defense. They say we have 36 games left, but I think we have enough. The players are taking the loss of the manager very hard. It’s not just him, it’s all of us. We had a losing streak, but we also had a winning streak. I told the players that for the sake of the fans, let’s do our best one game at a time, one game at a time.

-It must have been difficult for you to accept the position.
It’s a little bit embarrassing, but it’s a position that was given to me when I was the head coach. I thought about it a lot, but someone has to do it now. If I can help the team, I should do it. I’ve been a first-team coach before, but it’s been a long time. Right now, my first goal is to end the losing streak. I think we need to focus on stopping the losing streak and turning things around.

-You’re vacating the head coach position.
Yes. I think it’s better to work with the coaches who have been with us (in the first team) than whoever is the head coach right now.

-Have you had any conversations with Sutton?
I saw him yesterday before he came up (from Busan to Daejeon on the 28th) and I apologized, and I feel responsible for not being there for him. I could only say I was sorry, but he hugged me and said, ‘Finish well,’ and I felt so sorry.

-What did you talk about with the front office?
The front office told me that they rely on me a lot for a lot of things. They said, “I want you to keep track of the team and play a good game”. Manager, I talked to the team manager.

-I’ve been asked to pitch in relief when the team is in trouble.
“Right now, I have to prepare well for one game, one game, do my best, and then see the results. It’s not like there’s tomorrow. I told the players to give their best until the end of the ninth inning. I think the players feel a lot when they see the fans applauding and supporting them even when the team is in a difficult situation. If you don’t feel it, you don’t deserve to be a professional athlete. Baseball is a team sport, so we emphasize that more with our players. I also made it clear to them that if they did something that wasn’t team-oriented, I wouldn’t make an exception and I wouldn’t play with them for the rest of the season. 스포츠토토

-Why is it that every year the team is good at the beginning of the season and bad in the middle of the season?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about the underlying causes here. I think my role is to create an atmosphere for the team to rebound, starting with getting out of the losing streak.

-What kind of orders did you give to the veteran players?
At times like this, the seniors have to play a role as veterans. We communicated with each other, and I asked them to show good behavior even in tough situations.

-Will there be any changes in game management?
There have been a lot of changes in the batting order, but we’re trying to stabilize it. In the end, the existing players have to do their job. I think (key players) Jeon Jun-woo, Ahn Chi-hong, and Jeong Hoon, who are in the center, need to do it. I can’t ask the players below them (in terms of experience) to do it.