Major League Pittsburgh’s’Korean duo’ Choi Ji-man (32) and Bae Ji-hwan (24) are expected to start the 2023 regular season opener from the bench.
An official familiar with the Pittsburgh club’s situation said in an interview with Star News on the 30th (Korean time), “Choi Ji-man and Bae Ji-hwan will be removed from the starting lineup for Pittsburgh’s opening match against Cincinnati on the 31st.”
He continued, “Choi Ji-man is a key player who should start based on his major league career and the team’s salary ranking, but veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen (바카라37) has a bad elbow condition, so he instead serves as a designated hitter, and first baseman is veteran Carlos Santana. (37) will start,” he explained.
Pittsburgh, a young team in the process of rebuilding, recruited three veteran players ahead of this season, including Choi Ji-man and McCutchen, followed by Santana. This is because last year, I desperately felt the need for mentors for young players in the team. Also, the need for a captain to lead the clubhouse played a role.
However, McCutchen, who was expected to take on a clubhouse leader and a corner in the outfield, had a poor elbow condition from the end of spring camp, so he was more likely to play as a designated hitter instead of an outfielder at the beginning of the season. Therefore, for the time being, Choi Ji-man, who is behind McCutchen and Santana in terms of salary and major league career, is expected to give them playing time.
Bae Ji-hwan, who was thrilled to be included in the major league roster for the first time in five years after advancing to the U.S., failed to start in the first game. Bae Ji-hwan, who is capable of both infield and outfield defense, has been recognized for his quick feet and ability to handle various tactics, but he is still a rookie with a lot to prove before starting in the major leagues.
Therefore, he is expected to wait on the bench for the time being and start as a substitute runner or defender in the second half of the game, or when players whose positions overlap with him need a break.