The Hanwha Eagles are in the midst of a turbulent season

The Hanwha Eagles are in the midst of a turbulent season. The team is undergoing major changes after CEO Park Chan-hyuk and head coach Choi Won-ho resigned together, taking responsibility for the team’s performance. The resignations put a heavy burden on the shoulders of manager Son Hyuk and the on-field coaching staff, who were left to clean up the mess.

Among them, head coach Chung Kyung-bae (51) has the biggest burden. With Choi Won-ho stepping down, Hanwha asked Chung to take over as acting head coach. He will take charge of the team from the 28th against Lotte in Daejeon until a new coach is found.

Chung is a former right-handed infielder who joined Samsung in 1996 before being traded to SK in 2002, where he played until 2009. In his 14-season career, he batted .266 with a .362 average (3991-for-1062), 100 home runs, 522 RBIs and 70 stolen bases in 1322 games. He was a punchy offensive second baseman with six seasons of double-digit home runs, 안전놀이터 including 18 in 1999. He was particularly notable for his two-out, two-run home run in the first inning against LG on May 4, 1997, at Daegu Citizens’ Stadium while with Samsung. It remains the only record in the KBO to this day.

After retiring as a player,

He turned to coaching at SK in 2010, where he worked in various capacities, including hitting, defense, and baserunning. He was recognized for his leadership as hitting coach in 2017 and 2018, leading SK to the team home run title for two consecutive years. In 2019, he joined Doosan and then Hanwha in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, he served as the hitting coach for the Futures, then moved up to the first team in June when Choi Won-ho took over as acting manager, serving as both head coach and head hitting coach.

In 2021, he returned to the Futures with Choi to focus on development as a hitting coach, before returning to his home team SSG in 2022. As a hitting coach, he helped SSG win the wire-to-wire title in 2022 and returned to Hanwha as a quality control coach in 2023. Last year, he took over as head coach for the post-season camp and was also involved in hitting.

With Choi stepping down and no new head coach in place, someone needed to lead the team on the field. Hanwha asked Chung to take over. It’s not an easy position for Chung. Usually, acting head coaches are expected to lead the team until the end of the season.

Hanwha finished the season with Lee Sang-gun as acting head coach after Kim Sung-geun stepped down in May 2017 and Choi Won-ho after Han Yong-duk left in June 2020. Lee managed 101 games, while Choi Won-ho managed 114. Last year, after Carlos Suvero was sacked, Choi Won-ho was immediately appointed as the full-time head coach, eliminating the need for an acting system.

This time, however, the situation is different.

Hanwha has decided to use the acting system for a limited time. The team believes it needs a full-time head coach to strengthen its leadership in order to fight for a top-five finish in the rest of the season. The main rationale for the change of manager is to shake things up, so it’s hard to see an internal promotion as a boost. We’ve decided to go with an external hire early on, and we plan to shortlist and interview candidates.

It’s unclear how long it will take to find the next coach. It is also unclear how long Chung’s tenure as acting coach will last, but given that it is coming to an end, it is difficult for him to make any changes or put his own stamp on things right away. Hanwha can’t afford to give up the fight, either, as they’ve rebounded with five wins in their last six games. The team will have to deal with the fallout from the coach’s departure and stay in the race until a new coach is found.

A similar case happened with LG a decade ago.

In 2014, LG went 4-12-1 (.250 winning percentage) in its first 17 games of the season and fell to the bottom of the ninth place, prompting Kim Ki-tae to resign. After the club did not accept Kim’s resignation, head coach Cho Kye-hyun led the team on an interim basis from April 23 to May 12. He managed to turn the team around with a 6-11 record (.353 winning percentage) in 17 games before handing over the reins to Yang Sang-moon, who was officially appointed. At the time, Yang Sang-moon was a commentator for MBC Sports Plus.

Acting manager Cho Kye-hyun left for the Futures, and LG, reorganized under Yang Sang-moon, 온라인 슬롯 rebounded with a 52-41-1 record (.559 winning percentage) in its remaining 94 games to finish fourth and advance to the fall baseball season. It’s the best-case scenario Hanwha can hope for. Whoever the next manager is, it’s imperative that they clean up the mess and stabilize the team under Chung Kyung-bae.

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