New man­ager stresses men­tal for­ti­tude

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

After years of coach­ing in the Korea Base­ball Or­ga­ni­za­tion (KBO), Her Mun­hoe has landed his first man­age­rial job with the Lotte Gi­ants. And at his in­au­gu­ral press con­fer­ence Fri­day, the 47-year-old spoke at length about his lead­er­ship phi­los­o­phy, say­ing there won’t be any reign of ter­ror on the bench dur­ing his ten­ure.

“I’ll con­sider my­self a part­ner with th­ese play­ers, and I hope they’ll find me ap­proach­able,” Her said at Sa­jik Sta­dium in Bu­san, 450 kilo­me­ters south­east of Seoul. “Man­agers and play­ers are all in the same boat. And I want to build a team where ev­ery­one can com­mu­ni­cate and co­op­er­ate with each other. I think yelling at play­ers is the eas­i­est thing to do. I am not that type of coach.”

Her agreed to a three-year deal with 750 mil­lion won (US$643,070) in to­tal salary and 300 mil­lion won as a sign­ing bonus last Sun­day, a day after his for­mer team, the Ki­woom He­roes, lost in the Korean Se­ries to the Doosan Bears.

Her had been the He­roes’ bench coach since May last year. Be­fore that, he served as a hit­ting coach for the LG Twins.

Tak­ing over the Gi­ants is a home­com­ing for Her, who was born and raised in the club’s home city of Bu­san. He played 10 sea­sons in the KBO, in­clud­ing the 2001 and 2002 sea­sons with the Gi­ants.

The Gi­ants went through two man­agers as they fin­ished dead last in 2019, with a record of 48-93-3 (wins-losses-ties). First-year man­ager Yang Sang-moon stepped down in July, and bench coach Kong Pill­sung served as in­terim man­ager for the rest of the sea­son.

Her said he hopes to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that will al­low play­ers to com­pete for them­selves and not any­one else.

“I think there will be progress if we don’t put too much pres­sure on th­ese play­ers,” Her said. “If they play for oth­ers, they will be ten­ta­tive and pas­sive on the field. They have to start play­ing for their own good.”

Her said phys­i­cal con­di­tion­ing and men­tal for­ti­tude are two other pil­lars of his man­age­rial phi­los­o­phy.

“The most im­por­tant thing for the play­ers is to stay in great shape and to be tech­ni­cally sound,” Her said. “Once they have that foun­da­tion, they can work on their men­tal side of the game.”

Asked what he thought about the Gi­ants this past sea­son from the per­spec­tive of an op­pos­ing coach, Her said: “I don’t think any­one ex­pected this team to fall to last place. But if we can tweak the mind­set of the team, I think we’ll be a pretty good club.”

The Gi­ants have an ag­ing core with a shal­low pool of young prospects. Her said he’s only here to win ball games, not to de­velop young play­ers.

“I don’t think I can do both, and I want to fo­cus on the present rather than worry about the fu­ture,” he said. “I don’t care about the ages of my play­ers. I won’t put young play­ers in the lineup just to help them de­velop, un­less they put in the work to war­rant play­ing time.”

Her said he’d turned down coach­ing of­fers from other clubs in the past be­cause he didn’t think they were the right fit for him in terms of his lead­er­ship and coach­ing philoso­phies.

He said he felt he got the Gi­ants job be­cause he was be­ing him­self in the in­ter­view with­out try­ing to im­press the higher-ups.

“Base­ball is a men­tal game, and you shouldn’t make things com­pli­cated,” he said. “I’ve al­ways thought about how to run the team ef­fi­ciently. If we do our best in each and ev­ery game, I think a post­sea­son berth and even a Korean Se­ries ti­tle will fol­low.”


Her Mun-hoe, new man­ager of the Lotte Gi­ants, poses in front of the team’s logo at Sa­jik Sta­dium in Bu­san, 450 kilo­me­ters south­east of Seoul, dur­ing his in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony, Fri­day.

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