Park Gun-woo (33-NC), who was demoted to the second team due to the “work ethic” controversy, returned to the first team at the start of the second half.
The NC added the outfielder to the first 안전놀이터 team roster, along with infielder Park Min-woo and pitcher Chae Ji-seon, ahead of the first game of the second half against Hanwha in Daejeon on April 21. Park, who returned to the first team 18 days after being removed from the roster on March 3, was immediately named to the starting lineup as the No. 3 hitter in right field.
Speaking to reporters before the game, NC head coach Kang Myung-ho said, “There are things I want from Park Gun-woo, regardless of his individual performance. (I think he should be loved by the fans and respected by the players as well,” he ordered.
Park Gun-woo also spoke to the press, saying, “I will play hard for the team in the future. I will work well with my teammates and finish the season well.”
This ended the controversy over Park Gun-woo’s walk-ons, which had generated a lot of backlash after he was expunged from the first team roster on the last three days despite not being injured or performing poorly.
“Behavior out of the team” revisited two years ago at Doosan
Park batted third and played right field against the Suwon KT on April 2, but was replaced by Choi Jung-won in the bottom of the eighth inning with the score 0-1. NC scored four runs in the eighth inning and lost the game 0-5. He was subsequently removed from the three-day disabled list on Monday. At the time, the NC team said it was “not an injury,” which raised questions, but before the game against Gochuk Kiwoom on the 4th, head coach Kang In-hwa explained to the press.
“It can be said that Sunday’s (Feb. 2) game was decisive. It is true that Park Gun-woo complained of discomfort here and there during last week’s game. However, as a senior player, I think he has not only skills but also virtues that he should have. He has a direction that I don’t want him to do anything that deviates from the ‘original team’. I was disappointed in that part,” he said, adding, “I don’t think players should voice their opinions to be replaced. You don’t always have to be in good shape to keep playing, and you don’t always have to be out or on the bench if you’re not feeling well. Principles are important,” he said.
Park faced a similar controversy during his time at Doosan. On June 21, 2021, he was suddenly dropped from the first team, and then-Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyung said, “He was tired and wanted to rest, so I told him to go to the second team and get some rest. Baseball is a team sport, so if the mood is wrong with one player, you have to make a decision. That’s the role of the manager, and we need that decision now.” He also criticized the backups for not being able to play if the main player said they were tired.
Kang Myung-ho “needs to be respected by the players,” Park Gun-woo “works hard for the team,” Baek Euijong-gun vows
Although the team is different, Kang Myung-ho made the same decision after a similar incident two years ago. On the 7th, while the Changwon Samsung Electronics game was canceled due to rain, Kang met with Park Geon-woo and confirmed his intention to atone. A thawing mood was created when Park bent 90 degrees to deliver protective gear to Kang, who was serving as the first base coach, after Park’s hit at the All-Star Game in Busan on the 15th. After the All-Star Game, Park joined the first-team squad and began preparing for the second half of the season.
“I hope you can understand (the difficulty of answering) because the interview with Park Gun-woo was held separately from the player,” Kang said before the game against Hanwha on the 21st. “As I said last time, there are things I want from Park Gun-woo apart from his individual performance. I think he should be loved by the fans and respected by the players.”
Kang continued, “I think it was an unconscious thought. It’s important to have a little more consciousness and do our best to develop Korean professional baseball in the future,” he said. He hopes that he will become a more mature player after this incident.
Park Gun-woo also spoke briefly to the press after the training session. He said, “I will play hard for the team in the remaining games. I have to keep playing, so I will play baseball with the idea that I want to finish the season well by playing well with my teammates.”