At the beginning of the 2023 professional baseball season, if you were to pick Lotte’s first starting pitcher, it would be Na Gyun-an (25, photo), not a foreign one-two punch. The grades prove this. As of the 11th, Na Kyun-an has appeared in two games and has not given up a single run in 13.2 innings. His heavy pitching and precise control as if measured with a ruler continued until the second half of the game. 2 wins and an average ERA of 0. All of them are the best in the league.
Compared to Dan Strayley, the starting pitcher in the opening game, recording an average ERA of 5.73 with 1 loss in 2 games, and another outsider, Charlie Barnes, who recorded 4 runs in 4.1 innings in 1 game, Kyun-an Na definitely deserves the title of ‘Ace’. .
On the 11th at Sajik Stadium, the coaching staff and teammates joked with Na Kyun-an, saying that he was the “first starter”.
But Na Kyun-an waved his hand. He said, “Foreign pitchers will gradually improve as their condition improves.”
The reason Na Kyun-an’s performance is surprising is that he is close to the ‘rookie pitcher level’ who is in his third season in the first team after changing his position to a pitcher.
After graduating from Yongma High School, Na Kyun-an, who was a catcher until joining Lotte in 2017 in the 3rd place in the 2nd round, turned to pitcher due to an injury in 2020. He also changed his name from ‘Na Jong-deok’ to Na Kyun-ahn. Having stepped on the mound for the first team at Sajik Stadium as a pitcher from the 2021 season, he has now confidently established himself as a resource in charge of one axis of the mound.
Lotte coach Larry Sutton praised him, saying, “Na Kyun-an showed signs that he could grow further last year.”
Na Gyun-ahn, who played 39 games regardless of position last season and recorded an average ERA of 3.98 with 3 wins, 8 losses and 2 holds, in 117.2 innings, cited ‘stamina’ as the secret to good pitching this season.
Na Kyun-an said, “Since spring camp, I have focused on improving myself physically. The preparation process was definitely different from last year,” he said. In fact, since Na Kyun-ahn played catcher, he was confident in his physical strength. However, his stamina management as a pitcher was different. He said, “Last year, I recovered my stamina a bit late after throwing, but this year, I maintained my stamina while throwing, and even in the next game, I recovered quickly.” It is the result of working hard to raise and manage his stamina during spring camp.
The lead of new catcher Yoo Kang-nam, who forms a battery together, is also a great strength. Na Kyun-an said, “It induces the pitcher to throw what he is confident in. He expressed his gratitude, saying, “He definitely makes a big reaction in important situations, so it helps a lot.”
The start of the season is good, but Na Gyun-an is not happy and reminds himself of the primary goal of keeping the mound until the end of the season. He said, “The biggest goal is to leave the position and do a full-time job well.” 메이저놀이터