LG Twins outfielder Lee Jung-yong, 27, was overjoyed to win the Korean Series in a season in which he delayed his military enlistment.
LG won the Korean Series with a 6-2 victory over KT Wiz in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Shinhan Bank SOL Korean Series (best-of-four) at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 13, improving to 4-1 in the series. It was the first Korean Series title in 29 years since the 1994 championship.
In 37 games (86⅔ innings) this season, Lee posted a 7-2 record, one shutout, three saves and a 4.15 ERA. He split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, providing the all-around performance the team needed to win the regular season title. In the Korean Series, he pitched four games (four innings) with one save and a 0.00 ERA. Even when faced with the possibility of a last-minute start, he fulfilled his role in the bullpen and paved the way for LG to win the Korean Series.
“It’s been an eventful year, not only in baseball, but in life,” said Lee in a postgame interview, “but it wasn’t hard because I was pitching out of the bullpen. I pitched for the team. It feels so good to finish so well. I’m so happy, I’m dumbfounded. It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before,” he said of his victory.
“I’m grateful for the fans’ support,” said Lee, who added, “The third base side of Jamsil Stadium is usually the opposing team’s cheering section, but I was encouraged by the many yellow towels there. There was no pressure. I think I got a lot of strength from the fans.” He thanked the fans for their support.
Having pitched in Games 1 through 4 of the Korean Series, Lee was likely to start if the series went to Game 6. For this reason, he did not pitch in Game 5. With LG winning the Korean Series in Game 5, there was no chance for Lee to start in the Korean Series.
“I actually wanted to go out in the first inning,” said Lee, who laughed, “I was nervous today, but I kept stretching. I was ready to go at any time. I didn’t go out today, but I think I went out enough and I’m very happy with the series.” “In the middle of the series, I was told that I might be called upon to start, and I was ready. I don’t want to brag, but I thought I was the only one on the team who could do that. I just knew that I wanted to do more,” he said, emphasizing that he was ready to commit to the team.
Lee was originally scheduled to serve in the military after the end of last season. He tried out for the team and passed the first round. However, the club convinced him to play for one more year, so he gave up and played the entire season. The result was a Korean Series title.
“When I was first told to play for one more year, I honestly struggled a lot,” Lee said. “I asked for a lot of advice and knew it would be hard, but I decided to play for one more year. I have no regrets about my choice. I had a bad start to the season, but I never regretted it and it was a great year of learning.”
“Last year, when I decided to go to the army, I was fine, but this year, I really felt bad. I didn’t like the idea of being separated from such a good teammate. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to the army, but it’s a shame to part ways when it’s so good,” he said, adding that he regretted having to leave the team for a while soon.
“I feel like I have a lot of inbok,” said Lee Jung-yong, “I have so many people around me. I’m really grateful for them,” he said, thanking his teammates for their support and the people who helped him win.