Acting Lotte Giants manager Lee Jong-woon has made it clear that he will not give up the challenge of fall baseball for the rest of the season. Although he is confused by the sudden change in his position, he says he will stick to his role as a professional.
Shortly after the rainout of the 11th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Hanwha Eagles, which was scheduled to be held at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on the 29th, Lee Jong-woon said, “I’m also confused about the situation right now. I came to the first team as an assistant coach and then became the acting head coach,” he said, “I have many thoughts, but someone has to play this role now.”
Lotte announced the resignation of former head coach Larry Sutton on the afternoon of the 28th. According to the club, Sutton has decided to step down due to ill health.
Sutton was sent home after complaining of dizziness just before home games against SSG Landers on the 13th and KT Wiz on the 27th. Late on the night of the 27th, he informed the club that it would be difficult for him to perform his duties as head coach in his current condition.
Sutton’s deteriorating health is believed to have been influenced by the team’s poor performance. Lotte was cruising in third place until May, but has been on a relentless downward spiral since June. They are currently in seventh place with 50 wins and 58 losses and a winning percentage of 0.463, having lost seven straight games. They are five games behind the fifth-place KIA Tigers, putting them in a very unfavorable position in the race for the top five.
Lotte accepted Sutton’s resignation with 37 games remaining in the regular season. The team will hand over the management of the rest of the season to assistant coach Lee Jong-woon to continue its fall baseball challenge.
Lee was a franchise star for Lotte during his playing days. He went down in history as a key member of Lotte’s second and, to date, last Korean Series championship, batting .314 with 126 hits, three home runs, 57 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in the 1992 season.
After retirement, he began his coaching career and was named Lotte’s 16th manager for the 2015 season, but was fired in the first year of his three-year contract after the team failed to reach the postseason. After a stint in the U.S. minor leagues and a stint as SK (now SSG) second team coach, he returned to his hometown team this season as head coach of Lotte Future. 스포츠토토
In late June, when Lotte’s coaching staff was suspended, he was promoted to first-team head coach and became acting head coach in just two months, an unusual situation.