Sometimes you don’t get a ton of time with a guy, and sometimes his translator expresses frustration at your first question, because sometimes he’s heard it way too often. So sometimes, you get to talk to a guy like Jung-ho Kang, and sometimes you get five questions answered, quickly.
Eno Sarris: I wanted to talk to you about your leg kick. I thought it might be a two-strike approach thing, but then I noticed you hit a home run without the kick recently. Is it a two-strike thing?
Jung-ho Kang (through interpreter): When I think I’m out of balance, struggling with that, then I use the two-strike approach, no leg kick. To help overall balance, depending on how I feel in that at-bat.
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Sarris: You have the lowest opposite-field percentage in baseball. Have you always been a big pull hitter, or is that something that’s going to change a little bit as you see the league more?
Kang: I’m not thinking about pulling the ball. All I’m thinking about is putting the barrel on the ball, to center field. The location of the pitch dictates where the ball goes. I’m not intentionally pulling the ball, I’m just trying to go to center.
Sarris: So far, you’ve hit a decent amount of ground balls. Is there anything you’re working on with your swing plane, or are you just trying to hit line drives more than get it in the air?
Kang: Never thought it about it in those terms.
Sarris: I know that the fastball velocity is higher here, but in terms of types of pitches, what’s been different here? I know that in Japan, they throw more offspeed pitches, more junk. I don’t know what it’s like in KBO.
Kang: Similar types of pitches to Korea. Lots of sinkers and changeups, split-fingers, but the movement is different here. More movement. Everyone throws the same pitches in Korea.
Sarris: Last one. Who’s the nastiest pitcher you’ve seen so far this year?
Kang: Nastiest? They are all nasty. Nasty meaning?
Sarris: Nasty meaning like dirty stuff, hardest to hit.
Kang: Miami pitcher. The guy that hit me. The weird step, jump-step guy.
Sarris: Carter Capps!
Kang: Yeah he hit me. So far he’s the nastiest pitcher I’ve ever faced.
Sometimes, you don’t hit it out of the park. Sometimes, a ducksnort of an interview is good enough for a giggle on a Monday.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.
Thanks; enjoyed! I also like how you knew he was referring to Carter Capps.
So hard to pick from all of these jump-stepping Miami pitchers….