Please take care of 2024, teamwork in Jeju
Hosted by Kim Sun-bin, Park Chan-ho, Choi Won-joon and Park Jung-woo set up a “mini winter camp” together on Jeju Island. It is common to conduct individual training in warm Jeju during inactive periods. It is also good to see KIA Tigers’ main players gather in twos and threes to prepare for the 2024 season.
Individual schedules vary widely during inactivity periods. Players who can afford time seem to have naturally banded together on Jeju Island. In particular, it is notable that Kim Sun-bin and Park Chan-ho, Keystone Combi, train together. Given that it is not easy to conduct systematic defense training due to the nature of individual training, it is expected to focus on weight training and batting training.
As An Chi-hong (Hanwha Eagles) retired through the FA, Kim Sun-bin moved to second base. And as Park Chan-ho played as the main shortstop in earnest, they continued to work together for three to four years. Park Chan-ho became the defensive king last year, and has entered a period when he shows off his superior skills in offense and defense. Kim Sun-bin also has a reduced field of defense, but Shim Jae-hak, the general manager, predicted that his ankle is likely to improve from last year.
For this reason, Park Chan-ho and Kim Sun-bin’s Keystone Combo are irreplaceable power this year as well. There is Kim Do-young who can play as center infielder at any time, and there are also backup infielders such as Kim Kyu-sung and Park Min. However, Park Chan-ho and Kim Sun-bin’s Keystone Combo should provide more experience and weight for the time being.
Moreover, Kia has steadily increased its power through internal and external FA contracts and training under coach Kim Jong-kook. Many predict that it could become an opponent for the LG Twins in this season. It is a powerhouse to complete, and Park Chan-ho and Kim Sun-bin are constant players in the center line.
Besides winning the Korean Series, their motivation is clear. Park Chan-ho and Kim Sun-bin have been enthusiastic about Golden Gloves for several years. In particular, Park Chan-ho performed as well as Oh Ji-hwan of the LG Twins last year. The FA has two years to go.
Kim Sun-bin also wants to challenge himself to become the second baseman, and is advised not to become the second player to dominate the Golden Glove after Kim Hye-sung (Kium Heroes). As he signed a new three-year, three-billion-won (3 million U.S. dollars) contract as an FA, he feels a sense of responsibility.
Considering the current Keystone Combi, which is the starting lineup of 10 KBO League clubs, there is surprisingly no Keystone Combi that has been working together for a long time than Park Chan-ho and Kim Sun-bin. This is because there has been a strong trend of generational change of central infielders in the league in recent years. It is expected that it will be of great help to KIA’s 2024 season sailing just by showing only its original offense in the stable defense of the two.