“I talked to (ex) Junwoo on the way to work again today. I don’t want to break this routine, this jinx.”
During this year’s postseason run, NC Dinos captain Son As-seop has made it a habit to start his day with a phone call to his former team, the Lotte Giants’ best player, Jun-woo Jeon.
Son and Jun-woo developed a strong friendship while playing together for more than a decade during his time with Lotte. They remained close even after he moved to NC as a free agent after the 2021 season.
In recent years, Son has often sought out Jeon Jun-woo first. It was Jun-woo who was the first to open up about his nerves and excitement as he stepped onto the fall baseball field for the first time in six years since 2017, when he played for Lotte.
Coincidentally, the days that Son spoke to him on the phone were all days that NC won. He believes that the sound of Jeon’s voice gives him the energy to win, so he calls him every time he leaves home for the ballpark.
“My brother Jun-woo is a very special person,” Son said. We were childhood roommates when I was playing for Lotte, and we stay in touch the most during the season,” he said. “For this postseason, I’ve been calling him every day to send him good vibes,” he laughed.
“During the season, there were many days when I talked to him and the team won and my personal performance was good. Today, I also talked to him on the way to work,” he said, “NC kept winning in fall baseball this year, so I couldn’t break the jinx, the routine.”
Jun-woo also wishes Son the best. He attended Lotte manager Kim Tae-hyung’s inauguration ceremony on the 24th and said, “Son Ah-seop is also nervous because it’s his first postseason in a long time. I hope he does really well,” he said.
Son hit .339 (187-for-551) with five home runs, 65 RBIs, 14 doubles and an OPS of .836 in 140 games this year. He won his first batting title since turning pro in 2007, and the most hits, which opened the door to a second prime.
In the postseason, he’s been a force to be reckoned with. In the second round of the semifinals on March 23, with NC leading 5-3 in the top of the eighth inning, he came through with a game-winning RBI double. After settling into second base, he expressed his joy with a thumbs-up gesture toward the NC dugout on the third base side.
“For the ceremony at the beginning of the eighth inning of the second game, after Kim Hyung-joon’s solo home run and Do Tae-hoon’s run, I was thinking that a sacrifice bunt would come out, so I was thinking that I would have a chance in front of me,” Son said. “I wanted to get a hit somehow, but the throw came out on the course I was aiming for, and since it came out as I planned, I think the ceremony was more violent than usual,” he laughed.
“It’s best to finish in the third game, but I’m not going to let my guard down. If we don’t think about winning the first and second games and prepare as if today’s third game is the first game, I think we will be lucky and have a good result.”굿모닝토토
NC is also playing fall baseball for the first time in three years after winning the 2020 championship, finishing the regular season in fourth place behind Son’s performance. After a 14-9 win over the Doosan Bears in the wild-card decider, the team is on a three-game winning streak in the postseason, defeating the regular season’s third-place SSG Landers in the first and second rounds of the semifinals. A win in Game 3 on the 25th will set up a best-of-five playoff against regular season runner-up KT Wiz for a ticket to the Korean Series.
Meanwhile, NC lined up its starting lineup for Game 3 of the semifinals as Son Ah-seop (designated hitter), Park Min-woo (second base), Park Geon-woo (right field), Jason Martin (center field), Kwon Hee-dong (left field), Seo Ho-cheol (third base), Kim Hyung-joon (catcher), Kim Joo-won (shortstop), and Do Tae-hoon (first base). Foreign pitcher Tanner Tully will start on the mound.
Son As-seop will bat for NC in the same role as he did in the Wild Card Decider and Games 1 and 2 of the semifinals. Against SSG starter Oh Won-seok, he is 1-for-15 at the plate.