(LEAD) Pirates’ Bae Ji-hwan delivers key hit in season debut after callup from minors

South Korean utility man Bae Ji-hwan has come through with a big hit in his major league season debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates hours after getting called up from the minors. Bae batted 1-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored, a walk and a steal, as the Pirates rallied from a 6-1 deficit to beat the San Francisco Giants 7-6 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Tuesday (local time). Bae was brought up from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day and put into the starting lineup for his 2024 season debut, batting ninth and playing center field. He grounded into a forceout in the bottom of the second but drew a walk in the fifth inning before stealing second base and later scoring on a forceout by Bryan Reynolds. That run got the Pirates within two at 4-2, though the Giants added a run each in the seventh and eighth innings to build a 6-2 cushion. The Pirates refused to go away and pulled even with a four-run ninth inning. Bae stepped in with one out with the bases loaded and knocked in a run to make it 6-3 with a single off reliever Camilo Doval. After the Pirates added two more runs, Bae scored the tying run on a double by Oneil Cruz. The Pirates then walked off the Giants with a single by Nick Gonzales in the bottom of the 10th. Bae was placed on the 10-day injured list (IL) on March 28, retroactive to March 25, due to a strain of his left hip muscle. He was sent to Single-A Bradenton and then to Indianapolis on a rehab assignment before the Pirates activated him from the IL on April 14. Bae remained with the Triple-A club and swung a hot bat, to the tune of a .376 batting average and a 1.048 on-base plus slugging (OPS) in 27 games, along with four home runs, 15 RBIs and seven steals. During spring training, Bae was considered a strong candidate to win the second base job for the Pirates. While in the minors, Bae logged time at second base, center field and left field. The 24-year-old made his big league debut with the Pirates in 2022. Last year, he appeared in 111 games and put up a .231/.296/.311 line with t wo homers, 32 RBIs and 24 steals. Defensively, Bae spent time at second base, shortstop and center field. Bae is now one of two active South Koreans in the majors, as he joins Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres. Source: Yonhap News Agency