Kia Tigers appoint Kim Jong-kook as new manager
The Kia Tigers appointed long-term coach Kim Jong-kook as the team's new manager on Sunday, filling the gap left after the club parted ways with former skipper Matt Williams last month.
Kim, a one-club man who has been with the Tigers in some capacity since 1996, will earn 1.05 billion won ($900,000) on a three-year deal as his first managing post in the KBO.
Kim was drafted by the Tigers, then called the Haitai Tigers, in the first round in 1996. He debuted that year and was a regular fixture for the next 13 seasons, still managing 108 at-bats in 2009 before he retired at the end of that year.
He was never a power hitter, managing 66 home runs in his 14 years with the Tigers, but was well known for his speed. Kim retired with a .247 career batting average, with 1,086 hits and 429 RBIs. Over that period, he stole 254 bases. In 2002, Kim stole 50 bases in a single season, pacing the league.
After retiring, Kim immediately transitioned to coaching within the Tigers operation. He has been coaching the first team since 2012, including years as the first base coach.
Speaking after his appointment, Kim highlighted the need for the Tigers to work on their fundamentals — and especially their speed — to gain an edge against big hitting clubs.
"Objectively speaking, we're not much of a power-hitting club, but we can be competitive with our speed," Kim was quoted as saying on Yonhap. "I think the players were afraid of getting thrown out. Aggressive base running can put pressure on the other team. I'll tell the players to keep running. They have to overcome fears. The more passive you are, the more afraid you'll become."
The Tigers finished the 2021 season in ninth place with 58 wins and 76 losses. As well as finishing one spot off the bottom overall, they were also second-to-last for both steals, at 73, and attempted steals, at 104.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]