Hanwha Eagles third baseman Noh Si-hwan, 23, batted fifth in the opening game against the Kiwoom Heroes on April 1 and had three hits. In the final game of the first half, on July 12 against the LG Twins, he batted third, had two hits and scored the winning run. It was a good start and a good finish.

Whether the team was at the bottom in April or on an eight-game winning streak in June and July, Noh was a steady presence in center field. For the third year in a row, “last place” Hanwha starts the second half in eighth place. One of the key players in the rebound is Noh, the third baseman.

If I had to pick a first-half MVP, it would be Choi Yoo-soo. He played in all 78 games, batting .309 (98-for-309) with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. He hit six home runs last year, tied for first with SSG Landers’ Choi Jung (36), a three-time home run king. He is tied for second in RBIs, one less than first-place Choi.

When we met at the Daejeon Baseball Stadium last week, Noh said, “I was thinking about how I can hit a lot of strong hits and long balls. But I didn’t think about being a home run king at all,” he said. “I want to play more basic and stable defense than Hoseobi,” he said of his third base defense.

The team’s seniors and juniors, as well as the coaching staff, asked Noh questions. From why his grades suddenly improved to something very personal.

Q=Why don’t Koreans eat kimchi? If I could hit 30 home runs every year, I’d eat it. (Chae Eun-sung-33)

A=I haven’t eaten it since I was a kid, but it’s been like that ever since. I do eat it cooked, though. It’s salty and delicious when it’s cooked with meat on a grill. If I can hit 30 home runs every year, I’ll eat it.(Laughs) If I don’t eat it this year and hit 30, there’s no reason to eat it.(Noh said that Chae Eun-sung has helped him a lot since joining the team this season.)

Q=You’re good at everything, whether it’s baseball or anything else, so what are you not good at?

A=My father was good at various sports because he was athletic. I also inherited my father’s blood, so there are not many sports that I haven’t done, and I’ve been good at them since I was a child. If I just learn something other than sports, I become good at it.(laughs)

Q=I wonder why you’re doing so well this year. Have you been playing around?

A=I took a risk and tried to make changes, and it’s working out well. I’m big and strong, but if I don’t hit a lot of home runs, it’s not attractive. I’ve dreamed of being a home run hitter since I was a kid. The flower of baseball is the home run. I wanted to be a player who puts pressure on the pitcher even if I strike out. I made a lot of drastic changes (this season), including my hitting point.

Q=Why do you run with your mouth open? It’s cute, but I’m curious.(Lee Jin-young-27)

A=When it’s important, when it’s urgent, I do it without realizing it. I saw the video and realized it too. There are people who point out why I run with my mouth wide open, but it’s a habit that comes naturally when I’m concentrating, so I can’t change it now…. I can’t help it.

Q=I wonder why you insist on being right. For example, if six people disagree with you, do you not consider that you might be wrong? (Jung Eun-won-23-best friend, one year older)

A=(with an incredulous look) No, it’s not that. When I say it with conviction, you keep insisting that it’s not you. Actually, I’m right more often than not…. (It’s hard when you keep saying that there are multiple people, or that you have a lot of hair, or that you’re not.

Q=Why do you have braces when you already have a handsome face.(Moon Hyun Bin-19-the youngest in the first year of joining)

A=(Opening his mouth to show his braces) I have extra teeth, but they’re ugly, and (braces) don’t interfere with baseball. I thought it would be nice to have it done. 안전놀이터

Q=You’re so famous, how many girlfriends do you have (Felix Peña-33)?

A=I don’t have any girlfriends…. Seriously. I want to wait until I’m over 30 to get married, but until then, I’m going to focus on baseball. There are people like Yang Jun-hyuk who got married after retirement.

Q=Do you have any desire to follow in the footsteps of the ‘legends’ and keep the number 8 as your permanent number.(Finisher Park Sang-won-28)

A=Of course I want to do it, it’s a great honor. (Looking at the permanent number sign above the bleachers on the third base side of the Daejeon Baseball Stadium) When I saw Kim Tae-gyun’s number 52 at his retirement ceremony, I thought it would be nice to have my number 8 up there too. (Noh wore the number 37 but switched to the number 8 when Jung Geun-woo left the team. He said he wanted to be a player with the same grit as Jung Geun-woo)

Q=I’m worried about my stamina, but is it really okay if I continue to play defense without going out as a designated hitter? (Coach Choi Won-ho-50)

A=Coach, I don’t need to be a designated hitter, I don’t have any physical problems. I’ll tell you later if I get really tired and run out of energy. If I play defense and field a hit, and then go to the plate as a designated hitter, I’m on the bench and then go to the plate, so I feel like I’m not getting enough. If I go to the plate when I’m in good shape, I’m wasting my time in the dugout.

Q=I was wondering how long you plan to continue with your weight training and hitting routine.(Hitting coach Kim Nam-hyung-35)

A=I will continue until the end of my baseball life. From tee-batting before the game to fighting with the pitcher during the game. I have been lifting weights every other day since the start of the season, and I will keep it up.

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