Doosan Bears foreign-born batsman Jose Rojas has bounced back from an extremely poor first half of the season. Rojas has shown an incredible increase in his batting average in the second half of the season and is now batting third in the batting order, serving as the team’s centerpiece. There’s even talk of re-signing Rojas, which would have been unthinkable after his first-half struggles. Rojas hopes to stay with the team next year.
Rojas struggled in the first half of the season, batting .222 with 45 doubles, 10 home runs, and 33 RBI in 65 games. It was bad enough that he traveled to the Future Team in early June to get his batting mechanics straightened out. At the end of the first half of the season, 바카라 there was definitely some talk of replacing Rojas.
However, Rojas began to turn things around in July. Hitting coach Lee Young-soo, who joined the first team during the season, took on the role of working exclusively with Rojas, and he was on an upward curve. Since July, Rojas has been hitting consistently in the second half of the season, batting .281 with 25 hits, 4 home runs, and 17 RBIs in 26 games.
Doosan’s foreign slugger Rojas has been making up for his first-half slump in the second half. Photo (Jamsil)=Kim Geun-han
Doosan’s foreign batsman Rojas has moved up to the No. 3 spot in the batting order thanks to a strong second half. Photo by Kim Young-gu
Even Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop, who struggled with Rojas in the first half, gave a thumbs-up. “In the second half of the season, Rojas has been hitting well and has moved up to the third spot in the batting order. Recently, against the Kiwoom Heroes, I saw him make a change of not using the toe tap against pitcher Yang Hyun, and I felt that he has finally adapted to the KBO perfectly. He’s giving us the batting picture we want to see.”
Speaking to MK Sports, Rojas discussed his recent uptick in hitting, saying, “I’m just one piece of the team’s batting puzzle. I think it’s not because I’m doing well on my own, it’s because I’m batting with all my teammates. The change in at-bat that the coach mentioned was also an improvisation based on the situation and the characteristics of the pitcher’s ball. I think that’s what happens when you’re trying to produce line drives rather than fly balls.”
Rojas is also a utility player who can play both infield and outfield defense. While Rojas is currently focusing on outfield defense due to the team’s needs, he emphasized that he can also play infield defense. Rojas is confident that he can play shortstop, the most difficult of the infield positions.
“I’ve been playing a lot of outfield defense this season, and I feel comfortable with it now,” Rojas said. Nevertheless, I still do some infield fungo defense drills from time to time to maintain my infield defense. I think I can play all positions in the infield. Even shortstop defense. I was selected as a shortstop in the rookie draft, so I’m confident,” he smiled.
Rojas’ .281 batting average in the second half of the season, should he be retained next year?
Rojas, Doosan’s foreign hitter, has a much brighter expression on his face compared to the first half of the season. Photo by Chun Jeong-hwan
If Rojas continues his second-half batting surge into the final stretch of the season, he will likely be re-signed for next season. As in the case of KIA Tigers’ foreign hitter Socrates Brito, it may be a risky move to continue to work with a foreign hitter who has adapted to the KBO.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but if I get another chance with this team next year, I want to take it,” Rojas said. “The team has been very patient with me despite my poor hitting in the first half of the season, and I feel like my natural ability is coming out in the second half. I’ll try to keep up my recent good form and finish the season well.
With Rojas’ rise in July, Doosan went on a franchise-record 11-game winning streak. After a slow start to August, the team is still in the thick of a five-team race with four wins and two losses in the last week. Doosan will definitely need Rojas’ strength if they want to make it to fall baseball.
“When you’re a professional athlete, you want to play for the postseason,” Rojas said. It’s the same for me. If I make it to the postseason, I’m confident that I can show my value there. Personally, I’d rather be cold than hot, so I’m looking forward to it (laughs). I will always be grateful for the support of the Doosan fans and will do my best to help the team reach the postseason.”
Rojas, Doosan’s foreign outfielder, hits a double. Photo by Kim Young-gu