Professional baseball batters competing in the Asian Games sometimes struggle.
This is because they are faced with strange pitches that they have never seen before in the KBO.
Due to the large power difference between teams at the Asian Games, some pitchers throw very slow pitches in the low to mid-100 kilometres per hour.
This can be quite a challenge for KBO hitters who are used to fastballs.
In fact, some KBO batters at the Asian Games had their batting balance disrupted by the so-called “arirang ball,” which caused their batting to falter.
The ‘arirang’ is one of the key variables for the baseball team as they look to win their fourth consecutive title at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.
But Noh Shi-hwan (Hanwha Eagles), the centre fielder of the ‘Ryu Jung-il Ho’ and the KBO’s home run leader, laughed it off as “no problem”.
“I’m good at hitting pitches I’ve never seen before and I adapt quickly, so I’m confident in that regard,” Noh said after the national team’s official training session on Tuesday at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Centre Baseball Field 1 near Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China.
“If there are any problems, I will quickly overcome them and solve my homework,” he added.
Noh shook his head at the pressure of being the centre fielder for the national team.
“I’m looking forward to the first game tomorrow (against Hong Kong),” he said, “I’m a little nervous, but it feels good.”
Despite his lack of pressure, Noh’s role is crucial for the team.
In short-format matches, the mood of the game can often change in an instant with a single hit.
Depending on his performance, the mood of the Korean team can change dramatically.
The stadium conditions are not in his favour.
Pitch 1 and 2 at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Centre are huge, with a distance of 122 metres from home plate to the centre-field fence.
“I’m a little less greedy for home runs now that I’m out of the country,” said Noh, adding, “I try not to put pressure on myself to hit long balls.”
“I just think about hitting the ball as well as possible in the centre of the (bat) and making a strong hit,” he said.
“I will play well tomorrow,” said Noh with his trademark beaming smile as he boarded the bus to the Shaoxing Athletes’ Village.
South Korea will open their Group B campaign against Hong Kong at the same venue on 1 October. 스포츠토토