Pittsburgh Pirates Bae Ji-hwan (24) is solidifying his position as the main utility. Pittsburgh coach Derek Shelton also highly praised Bae Ji-hwan.
Bae Ji-hwan started as the 8th hitter and 2nd baseman in an away game against the Boston Red Sox on the 5th (Korean time), and hit his first home run in his debut with a two-run four in the 2nd inning, followed by Raphael Devers’s defense in center field in the 8th inning. Pittsburgh won 4-1 with a picturesque jump catch on a long hit ball headed for the center fence.
Pittsburgh local media ‘Trip Live’ said, ‘Bae Ji-hwan became a 메이저놀이터hot topic with two amazing plays. He hit the first home run of his career, pushing over the Fenway Park Green Monster, and added a brilliant catch in the eighth. Director Shelton praised Bae Ji-hwan’s versatile play.”
Coach Shelton said, “Bae Ji-hwan played very well in Gongsuju overall,” and added, “It’s really cool to hit a home run at Fanway Park. It’s even cooler to have a home run ball pop out and have it.”
Regarding the super catch in the 8th inning, he said, “It was a great catch. It was a difficult ball because he had never played in center field at Fenway Park.” “He didn’t want to go beyond the first ball. He stopped and caught a straight line drive hit right in front of him. It was a difficult play for him, but Bae Ji-hwan did it,” he praised.
Bae Ji-hwan, who started as second baseman but moved to center fielder in the 8th inning, did not flinch and caught lead hitter Alex Verdugo’s 107.1 mile (172.4 km) bullet-like line drive batted ball before catching Devers’ batted ball. He played as skillfully as a professional center fielder.
Bae Ji-hwan’s main positions are second baseman and shortstop, but he practiced multiple times as an outfielder in the minor leagues. He was recognized early on for his innate speed and athleticism, and is showing quick adaptability even on the big league stage.
Coach Shelton said, “We talked with the player development staff about how well Bae Ji-hwan could move as a center fielder. They believed in Bae Ji-hwan a lot, and that belief permeates this far.”
Bae Ji-hwan started as the 8th hitter in center field against Cincinnati on the 6th, and moved the defense to 2nd base in the 7th inning. He started five of Pittsburgh’s opening six games, covering both center field and second base in four of them. With his extraordinary multi-skills, he is solidifying his place as a starting pitcher who crosses two positions.
Meanwhile, Bae Ji-hwan recorded 1 hit in 4 at-bats in the game on the 6th. He got on base with a hit in the eighth inning, though well-hit balls went straight and were out. He hit left-hander Richard Blair’s glove and sprinted to first base while the batted ball landed on the side. While Blair’s throw from first base fell back, he went up to second base and threatened the opponent with quick feet. His batting average for the season slightly increased to .222 (4 hits in 18 at-bats). Pittsburgh also won 5-2, succeeding in sweeping all three Boston matches for the first time in the club’s history.