Korea Series MVP Na Ji-wan wins big pay raise

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Korea Series MVP Na Ji-wan wins big pay raise


Na Ji-wan

Korea Series MVP Na Ji-wan got a whopping raise for his solid play in 2009. The 24-year-old outfielder inked a new deal yesterday which will see him receive 100 million won ($85,300) next season. That’s over twice the 38 million won salary he received last season.

In his sophomore season with the Kia Tigers, Na appeared in 128 games, hit .263 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI. His defining moment of the season came in the bottom of the ninth inning in game seven of the Korea Series when he hit a game-winning solo home run to help his team win the seventh and deciding game of the series, 6-5 over the SK Wyverns.

“I will try my best to help the club to another winning season,” stated Na. “The winter training camp is a bit later than usual this offseason but I will work that much harder not to let the fans down next season.”

The left fielder was drafted fifth in the second round of the 2008 KBO Draft. Coming off an impressive collegiate career with Dankook University, Na was given the cleanup spot to start his rookie season but completed the season with a modest .295, six home runs and 30 RBI in 73 games.

Na got an opportunity to showcase his skills this past season when Lee Yong-kyu went down with an ankle injury early in the season. Na along with Choi Hee-seop and Kim Sang-hyun formed one of the most feared trio of batters in the league in 2009.

Despite coming off an impressive season, Na is determined to improve areas of his game. Na has been watching his diet and working on weight training in order to improve his speed and maintain his power.

At the Tigers’ winter training camp in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, the Tigers’ coaching staff and Na are targeting on shedding 10 kilograms (22 pounds) from his 182-centimeter (six-foot), 95-kilogram frame. Thanks to a tough training routine, a healthy diet and some traditional herbal remedies, Na has already lost five kilograms.

Several of his teammates, including Choi and Ahn Chi-hong, expressed their surprise at Na’s determination at training camp.

“Ji-wan’s been impressive at the training camp. I need to be as focused but it’s not easy,” stated Ahn.

By Jason Kim, Kim Hyo-kyung [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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