The Lotte Giants have been hit with another midseason managerial change, this time due to ill health. How did Larry Sutton (53) come to this decision?
On the 28th, Lotte said, “Coach Sutton resigned from his position as manager on the 27th due to health reasons after the game against KT.” “After deliberation, the club decided to respect and accept Coach Sutton’s will,” the team said. Lotte will continue the remainder of the season under acting head coach Lee Jong-woon, starting on Sept. 29 against Daejeon Hanwha.
Sutton, who previously played for the Hyundai Unicorns and Kia Tigers and led the league in home runs (35) and RBIs (102) in 2005, was named Lotte’s secondary manager ahead of the 2020 season. He was promoted to the first team in May 2021 when Heo Moon-ho was fired.
Despite the team’s turmoil, Sutton, who guided the team to a winning percentage of 0.542 (32 wins, 27 losses and seven draws) in the second half of the 2021 season, was rewarded by the club later that year with a contract extension until 2023. But last year, after finishing April in second place, the team stumbled, finishing eighth (0.457 winning percentage).
This year, the team received a boost by signing catcher Yoo Kang-nam (31), shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk (34), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (30). The team continued to fight for the lead until the beginning of June and was in the top three. However, after June, the team went through a series of losing seasons and dropped down the standings. After having their 5 percent winning percentage shattered in the last game of the first half, Lotte failed to rebound in the second half, and as of the 28th, they are in seventh place with a season winning percentage of 0.463 (50 wins, 58 losses). Lotte has now lost seven straight games.
Sutton, who had health problems, finally decided to ‘resign’
Former Lotte manager Larry Sutton. /Photo=Lotte Giants
Sutton had taken a few health breaks during his tenure. In June 2021, he was classified as a close contact of COVID-19, and in May of last year, he took time off due to illness. However, these were temporary issues and he was able to finish the rest of the season without any problems.
But this season, and especially in the summer, red flags have been raised about his health. According to club officials, Sutton’s body and mind began to break down as the team went into a downward spiral after June. Before his resignation against SSG on July 17, he went to the hospital in the morning. At the time, Sutton said, “I’ve been feeling tired lately, so I’ve been receiving fluids.” Although he claimed to have no major health issues, Sutton eventually handed over the reins to coach Lee Jong-woon and took a break.
Ten days later, on the 27th, Sutton chose to miss another game against the resigned KT. According to a club official, Sutton went to the ballpark that day and went home immediately due to health issues. Coach Lee took over the role of acting manager on the same day.
Lotte has been struggling lately, unable to end their losing streak. This, coupled with his own health issues, led Sutton to announce his resignation to team president Sung Min-kyu after the game on the 27th. A club official said, “Coach Sutton expressed his intention to resign, saying, ‘My body is like this, and it’s difficult to manage the rest of the season.
Experienced acting manager Lee Jong-woon aims to ‘restore honor’ after failure 8 years ago
Lee Jong-woon, who will take over for Sutton, who chose to step down, will be returning to the Lotte dugout for the first time in eight years. The acting coach, who took over in 2015, led Lotte to a winning percentage of 0.462 (66 wins, 77 losses and one draw) on the season, ranking eighth out of 10 clubs. Led by the foreign trio of Josh Lindblom, Brooks Reilly, and Jim Aduchi, the team was in contention for a top-five finish by the end of the season, but they never got to experience fall baseball, and he was fired in October of that year.
The former SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) second-team coach returned to Lotte as second-team coach ahead of this season. He then moved to the first team as head coach in a coaching staff reshuffle in late June and was named acting head coach for the remainder of the season after about two months.
He has the advantage of having spent a season as a first-team coach. The fact that the team was in contention for the title, albeit without any notable results, could help. “It’s a very difficult time, so of course there will be pressure on him, but he has experience, so we’re looking forward to that,” said a club official.
In the end, it will come down to how well the agency can navigate through the concerns about its previous experience. For Lee, it’s also about rebuilding his reputation after the fiasco eight years ago.
Fall baseball is getting farther away… Can Lotte write a ‘September Miracle’?
As of the 28th, Lotte is five games behind the fifth-place KIA Tigers in the postseason standings. Lotte, which once had a +11 win-loss margin (as of June 3), has fallen to -8 in less than two months. With no easy way to rebound, and the sudden departure of their manager, the team’s situation has taken a turn for the worst.메이저사이트
However, Lotte still has 36 games left to play. It’s not going to be easy, but they can still rebound. Especially in the second half of the season, the two foreign pitchers, Charlie Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson, have been performing at their best, and the batting lineup has shown some positive signs with new faces like Lee Jung-hoon and Shin Jung-geun.
Ultimately, Lotte’s path to fall baseball for the first time in six years will depend on how well Lee and the players rebound, or they could be missing Sutton by the end of the season.