Forgotten veteran earns baseball postseason MVP honors

November 2, 2018

INCHEON, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) — SK Wyverns’ veteran outfielder Kim Kang-min wasn’t supposed to play much in the team’s Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason, let alone get into the starting lineup.

But one man’s misfortune became another man’s opportunity. The usual starting outfielder, Ro Soo-kwang, sustained a finger injury late in the regular season, and that opened the door for Kim, 36, to step in and take both the center fielder and leadoff job for the series against the Nexen Heroes.

And it turned out to be a huge gain for the Wyverns, too. They eliminated the Heroes in five games, after a dramatic 11-10 win on Friday, and Kim was voted the series MVP after batting .429 (9-for-21) with three homers and six RBIs in five games. He earned 40 out of 65 votes from the media.

In the clinching game, Kim went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored, and launched a game-tying solo shot to open the bottom of the 10th inning. Han Dong-min’s solo shot immediately afterward won the game for the Wyverns.

During the regular season, it was Ro, 28, who took away playing time from Kim and limited the veteran to 80 games, Kim’s lowest total in 13 years. Kim also spent a couple of months early in the season in the minors.

One of the few remaining players from the Wyverns’ last championship team in 2010, Kim gradually became a forgotten man. But he returned to the spotlight with a bang in this series.

“I had such a tough start to the season, but I guess I’ve gotten to this point because I battled through those moments and never gave up,” Kim said. “I don’t ever want to go back to those days. But I think it was all worth it.”

As for the crazy Game 5 — the Wyverns blew a 9-4 lead with two outs in the top ninth before clinching it in the bottom 10th — Kim said it was “the greatest game of my life.”

“I am so proud of these guys,” Kim said. “I didn’t have the strength to go back out on the field for the top of the 11th. So I told the guys to try to end the game in the bottom 10th, and Dong-min did the job.”

Kim Kang-min of the SK Wyverns celebrates his RBI double against the Nexen Heroes in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 5 of the second round playoff series in the Korea Baseball Organization at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim Kang-min of the SK Wyverns celebrates his RBI double against the Nexen Heroes in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 5 of the second round playoff series in the Korea Baseball Organization at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

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