2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Dominican Republic Nelson Cruz was born in 1980 and is 43 years old this year. He made his major league debut in Milwaukee in 2005 and played in Texas, Baltimore, Seattle, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Washington, and San Diego this year. Last January, he signed a free agent contract for one year and $1 million and became a teammate of Kim Ha-seong.
He has only 18 years of major league experience. Although he was suspended for 50 games in 2013 for a banned substance problem, he is treated as a hero in the Dominican Republic by hitting 459 homers in his career.
He also served as the captain of the national team. He has played for seven teams in the major leagues, has short feet and has an outgoing personality, so he decided to lead the national team himself. Since he chose himself, the general manager, as a national team player, it is worth knowing his personality.
Cruz made his first appearance in the tournament on the 15th (Korean time) in Group D against Israel. In the beginning of the 7th inning, when the score gap widened to 7-0, Juan Soto’s right fielder went into great defense, and in the bottom of the 7th at bat, he hit a left-handed hit and followed up with Jin Segura’s finishing double. It was a day that made his presence evident as a player.
The reason Cruz chose him for the national team was based on his confidence. Foreign media report that he is widely trusted by juniors who dominate the major leagues, such as Soto, Manny Machado, Jeremy Pena, and Sandy Alcantara. It is hard to imagine in Korean baseball that a 43-year-old player wears a national team uniform. First of all, it’s hard to support your skills, and it’s because you hear sarcasm about whether you still eat national team meals at that age.
The Korean national team, which was eliminated in the first round of WBC 3 times in a row, returned home quietly through Incheon International Airport on the 14th. However, Kim Gwang-hyun posted a post on his SNS titled “Thank you for supporting the national team Kim Gwang-hyun so far.” This is the so-called national team retirement declaration. He used expressions such as “I feel like I have to hand over this opportunity to learn and grow to my juniors” and “I am indignant”.
Previously, after the match against China on the 13th, Kim Hyun-soo, captain of the national team, said, “I’m done now. Wearing a Korea uniform is the last time.”
It is very unusual for a baseball player to say that he is retiring from the national team. In baseball, there are not as many national competitions as there are in soccer, and there is no tournament with absolute authority such as the World Cup, so the expression of national team retirement is unfamiliar.
The national team is not a position that I can choose whether I want to do it or not. Literally, the best players represent their countries in international competitions. Age doesn’t really matter, and it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve played for the national team. Just a player who is good enough to qualify is necessary and sufficient. 스포츠토토
The announcement of retirement from the national team by Kim Gwang-hyun and Kim Hyun-soo needs to be approached in light of such essential aspects. It is not an era where we discuss the responsibility to raise the nation’s status with patriotism, but the sacredness and nobility of the national team remain unchanged regardless of the East and the West.
Kim Kwang-hyun and Kim Hyun-soo’s declaration of retirement sounds like “Don’t pick me in the future” because it came at a time when fans’ criticism was pouring right after the WBC dropout.
The two players are not even taking off their professional uniforms right away. Kim Gwang-hyun, who signed a four-year contract last year, will play until 2025. Kim Hyun-soo, who signed a contract for up to six years with the LG Twins, must fulfill his duties as a player until 2027. The two will do their best during the contract period.