He didn’t know he had torn a ligament in his ankle, but he was desperate to play. For NC Dinos infielder Seo Ho-cheol, 27, the 2023 season and fall will never be forgotten. It was a valuable experience and a lesson learned.
Seo has been a hot commodity for NC this year. After graduating from Dongwon University and being selected in the ninth round of the second round of the 2019 draft, Seo made a name for himself in the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce) in 2021 by winning the Futures League batting title. He realized that potential in the first team this season. In 114 games, he batted .397 (114-for-397) with five home runs, 41 RBIs, 50 runs scored, and a .714 OPS. He was once considered an infield utility player, but this year he became NC’s starting third baseman.
Especially in the postseason, Seo became a star. He led the team to the semifinals with a 3-for-6 performance, including a game-winning grand slam in the first game of the wild-card deciding series against Doosan, the first gateway to fall baseball. In the semifinals against SSG, he went 4-for-10 with three RBIs. In the playoffs against KT, however, his stamina wore down as he batted just 5-for-6 (1-for-18) with one RBI and one run scored. The team lost three straight games to advance to the Korean Series after taking a two-game series lead.
Throughout the season, Seo has been a fighter.
He suffered two “headshots,” or pitches to the helmet. On April 15 against SSG, he was hit in the helmet by a Seo Jin-yong pitch. On September 24 against Doosan, he was hit in the face by a ball from Kim Kang-ryul. After the first headshot, he returned after a 10-day break, 먹튀검증 but this time with a fractured nose. However, he didn’t feel much pain and returned to the game. In August, he was sidelined with finger ligament damage, and he struggled with hamstring pain during the season.
At the end of the regular season, during the height of the standings battle, Seo suffered another unfortunate injury. He tripped on the dugout steps and tore his ankle ligaments. The team had already qualified for the postseason, but the standings were crucial. Needing a last-minute boost, Seo focused on rehabilitation and watched from behind the dugout.
He apologized, saying, “I did something wrong and hurt my ankle. For ten days, I tried to recover unconditionally and make the postseason roster. “My teammates were giving it their all, and I was resting,” he said, “so I could recover and recharge. “I was resting while my teammates were giving it their all,” he recalls, “and I think I went into rehab thinking I was going to recover, recharge, and give it my all in the postseason.
But he wasn’t in the best shape to come back.
In fact, Seo had been playing with a torn ankle ligament during the postseason. After the postseason was over, he underwent an MRI and found out that the ligament was torn, but he continued to hit home runs and play defense.
“I didn’t know when I would be able to experience fall baseball again, so I wanted to play unconditionally. I wanted to play more than I wanted to be sick,” said Seo. “If I was really sick, I shouldn’t play for the sake of the team, but the trainers treated me well and did good reinforcement exercises. And my will to play was strong. I decided I could play, so I did.” She fought through the pain with desperation.
The grand slam in the wild-card game was one of the most memorable moments of Seo’s baseball career. It was an atonement for the season-ending ankle injury that kept him out of the lineup. “I felt sorry for the team and my teammates, and I put all my energy into it. “I was just thinking, ‘He have to win this game,’ and I got goosebumps and it was a home run. He cringed,” he recalls, adding, “I thought I’d never forget that moment in my baseball life.”
As it turned out, however, the Korean Series was not to be.
After winning two straight playoff games against KT, they suffered the humiliation of a reverse sweep, losing three straight. No one laughed at NC’s fight. They applauded, but they couldn’t help but feel disappointed and frustrated. Even at the moment when the entire team was in tears, Seo Ho-cheol immediately vowed not to repeat the pain next year.
He said, “Everyone was exhausted. Even the head coach said it looked too hard. “I thought it wasn’t hard because I was playing tight games every day, but in the end I was exhausted. I really felt the importance of fitness and the fitness I did was nothing. It was a really good experience and I think it will be another turning point for me,” he said encouragingly.
For now, Seo is focused on rehabilitating his ankle.
He is confident that he will be able to participate in next year’s spring camp. However, he reminded himself about self-care. Seo is known for his thorough routine within the NC team, but he emphasized that he will pay more attention to his physical fitness and injury management.
He said, “I can’t give good scores this year. I’m grateful for so many opportunities, but the fact that I had so many injuries means that I mismanaged them. 안전놀이터 I’m disappointed in myself,” he said, adding, “I think injuries also come from fitness issues. I want to continue to play confidently and with strength, but I also want to manage well so that I don’t get injured.”
He vowed not to be satisfied with being labeled as the hit product of this year’s NC, and not to get carried away with the satisfaction of having a memorable season. “I don’t think I’m a starter,” Seo said. I don’t think I’m guaranteed another chance. He will prepare to do better and win on the baseball field. I will try to be a better player next year than this year, next year than next year, and next year than next year.”