“I don’t know because I’m not interested in pitchers…”
Pitchers were not on the mind of Noh Si Hwan (24, Korea Eagles), who will soon be facing Major League Baseball (MLB) stars, but there was a twinkle in his eye: Manny Machado (32, San Diego Padres).
Noh met with reporters at Melbourne Ballpark in Victoria, Australia, on Wednesday and expressed his excitement for the ‘MLB World Tour Seoul Series Special Game’ to be held next month on April 17-18.
After being named to the 35-man preliminary roster of the Korean National Team (Team Korea) announced by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on Feb. 2, there is no doubt that Noh will make the final roster. But when asked who he would like to play against, he gave a surprising answer.
Team Korea will face the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego. While the teams have top-notch pitchers, including Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Dodgers) and Darvish Yu (San Diego), Noh has his eyes set on fellow third baseman Machado.
“Since Ohtani didn’t come up (as a pitcher), I missed him,” Noh said, adding that San Diego’s Machado was a role model.
It naturally leads to a defense story. A second-round pick in the 2019 rookie draft, he was expected to succeed Kim Tae-gyun as the next big thing in the outfield after hitting 18 home runs in 2021, but he slowed to six in 2022. However, he emerged as the best hitter in the league last season, dominating both categories with a .298 batting average, 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. He was the No. 4 hitter at both the Hangzhou Asian Games and the postseason Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC).
He had just won the Golden Glove Award, which honors the league’s best player at each position for a season. But as he prepares for the new season, Noh’s eyes are elsewhere.
“My defense is still not good enough. There are many seniors who are better at it,” he said. “It’s not the best defense, but it gets better with each year of experience. You can practice a lot, but you can’t ignore experience. I’ve been practicing defense a lot, and I feel like I’m getting better every year.”
The San Diego third baseman, who is batting .279 with 313 home runs, 944 RBIs and an OPS of .829, has won one American League (AL) Silver Slugger Award (2020) and two AL Third Base Gold Glove Awards (2013 and 2015) for his outstanding defense. He’s also one of the best third basemen in baseball, having won the Platinum Glove (2013), which is awarded to the best defender in both leagues regardless of position. All of this makes him a potential Hall of Famer even though he’s still in his prime.
That’s why Machado is a role model for Noh, who wants to be the perfect third baseman. While he aims to maintain his batting average, Noh is unusually ambitious on defense. He wants to play third 에볼루션 바카라사이트 base full-time.
“If I get old, I might have to go to the designated hitter, but I want to stay there as long as possible, and my dream is to play until I’m old,” he said. “This year, my goal is to play all 144 games.”
“Last year, I wanted to continue playing full-time, and I wanted to show that I was healthy, but during the All-Star break, I was not resting well and the weather was getting hotter, so my bat was not spinning and my strength was decreasing,” he said. “I was not resting well and the weather was getting hotter, so before I knew it, my bat was not spinning and my strength was decreasing, so I consulted with the manager and went to the designated hitter. Physically, I may not be able to play the entire game in defense, but my goal remains the same,” he said.
He will face Machado, who is already at that level, next month. “There are a lot of other hitters I like,” Noh said. Mookie Betts of the Dodgers and Fernando Tatis Jr. of San Diego. I’m very honored to play with them,” he said, adding, “I won’t be able to talk about baseball, but I’d like to say hello through body language.”