INCHEON -- When the SSG Landers signed former major league infielder Kevin Cron in December, they probably didn't think he'd be hitting below the Mendoza Line about halfway through the preseason.
With the start of the regular season less than two weeks away, Cron is batting 3-for-19 (.158) with a home run and three RBIs in seven games in his first spring in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). The preseason will wrap up next Tuesday, with the regular season starting on April 2.
Cron is replacing Jamie Romak, a Canadian slugger who retired after last season following five productive seasons for the Incheon-based franchise. Romak had 155 home runs and 409 RBIs from 2017 to 2021, or an annual average of 31 homers and nearly 82 RBIs.
The Landers would be ecstatic with those numbers from Cron this year.
However, it'd be one thing if Cron had been getting into some hard outs; other than his lone homer, Cron hasn't been hitting the ball well.
SSG manager Kim Won-hyong said Tuesday he and his staff want to make things as comfortable for Cron as possible.
"He has been a great teammate and he is always positive," Kim told reporters before taking on the LG Twins at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, some 40 kilometers west of Seoul. "But the most important thing is he has to deliver what the team expects from him, and he hasn't done that. I think he must be stressed out about it."
Cron went 0-for-12 in his first four games. He finally broke through with his first home run last Friday against the Kiwoom Heroes, but he went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in his next two games.
"We were hoping that home run would have been a turning point for him," Kim said. "But he has some weaknesses at the plate and opposing pitchers are attacking those holes."
Cron flashed some power in the U.S. minor leagues, hitting 38 home runs in Triple-A for the Arizona Diamondbacks just three years ago, and Kim said the 29-year-old should trust in his abilities.
"I don't think his skills will improve here all of a sudden, but we'll just have to wait and see," Kim said. "If we keep stressing on things he has to work on, then it may mess with his head. He has to trust his strengths as a ball player." (Yonhap)