KBO club manager to plummeting slugger: ‘Trust yourself’

SSG Landers’ Kevin Cron hit a two-run homer against the Kiwoom Heroes in the top of the fourth inning of a Korea Baseball Organization preseason game at Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome last Friday. (Yonhap)

INCHEON — When the SSG Landers signed former major league infielder Kevin Cron in December, they probably didn’t think he’d be hitting under the Mendoza line about halfway through the preseason.

With the start of the regular season less than two weeks away, Cron is 3-for-19 (.158) with one homer and three RBIs in seven games in his first spring in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). The preseason will end next Tuesday, with the regular season starting April 2.

Cron replaces Jamie Romak, a Canadian slugger who retired after last season after five productive seasons for the Incheon-based franchise. Romak has hit 155 home runs and 409 RBIs from 2017-2021, an annual average of 31 homers and nearly 82 RBIs.

The Landers would be thrilled with those numbers from Cron this year.

However, it would be one thing if Cron had struggled; other than his single home run, Cron did not hit the ball well.

SSG manager Kim Won-hyong said on Tuesday that he and his team wanted to make things as comfortable as possible for Cron.

“He’s been a great teammate and he’s always positive,” Kim told reporters before facing the LG Twins at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, about 40 kilometers west of Seoul. “But the most important thing is that he has to deliver what the team expects of him, and he hasn’t. I think he must be stressed about it.”

Cron went 0 for 12 in his first four games. He finally broke through with his first home run last Friday against the Kiwoom Heroes, but went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts in his next two games.

“We were hoping that home run would have been a turning point for him,” Kim said. “But he has some weaknesses at home plate and opposing pitchers are attacking those holes.”

Cron has shown power in the American minor leagues, hitting 38 Triple-A homers for the Arizona Diamondbacks just three years ago, and Kim said the 29-year-old should be trusted in his abilities .

“I don’t think his skills will improve here all of a sudden, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Kim said. “If we keep insisting on things he needs to work on, it can mess his head up. He needs to trust his strengths as a ball player.” (Yonhap)

By Kim Young-won ([email protected])

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