Long Second Team Life…Reversal Man Utd’s Lim Ji-yeol’s ‘One Shot’ Is All the More Welcome for It

Lim Ji-yeol (28-KEUM) certainly etched the three letters of his name into the minds of Keum fans in the first round of the semifinals against KT at the Gocheok SkyDome in Seoul on October 16 last year. He hit a “wedge” two-run homer off KT closer Kim Jae-yoon in the bottom of the eighth inning with his team leading 6-4.

Lim’s competitive side came out again this season. In the NC game in Gocheok on the 12th, with the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Lim hit a three-run home run off opposing pitcher Kim Si-hoon.

Lim’s “one-hitter” was activated again on Aug. 28, just before Kiwoom fell into a five-game losing streak. After being held in check by Lotte ace starter Na Kyun-ahn for most of the game, Kiwoom had a chance to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Lim Ji-yeol, who had come on as a substitute in the bottom of the seventh inning and drew a walk, hit a game-winning grand slam off reliever Yoon Myung-joon with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth to give the team a 7-5 victory and snap a four-game losing streak.

Lim is a prime example of a player who makes a big impression for a small number of appearances. After joining Nexen (formerly Kiwoom) 메이저놀이터in the second round (22nd overall) of the 2014 rookie draft, Lim has only played 94 games in the first team. That’s a long time to cool off in the second team.

He waited for a call-up to the first team by performing consistently in the second team. In 568 games, he batted .317 (1723 hits, 547 runs) with an on-base percentage of over 5%. The sweat he sheds in the second team is paying off in the big leagues. He’s batting .262 (16-for-61) with a .791 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in the first team this season.

“I always prepare the same and try to do what I can, and it worked out well,” Lim said after the game, adding, “I feel like I helped the team that was on a losing streak, so I feel really good.”

“I think I have star quality,” he laughed out loud, but humbled himself by saying, “It’s not so much that it was a game-winning home run, but that it was a home run that broke the losing streak.”

“I always prepare myself to go to the plate because it helps the team if I do well,” Lim said. “The atmosphere in the dugout has been sagging recently as the team has been losing, and I hope my home run will encourage my teammates, and I hope the team will rebound together.”

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