Lotte Giants manager Larry Sutton has voluntarily resigned.
“Coach Sutton resigned the day before for health reasons after the KT Wiz 스포츠토토 game, and the team decided to respect and accept his decision after careful consideration,” Lotte announced in a press release on the afternoon of the 28th. Starting with the game against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon on Sept. 29, Head Coach Lee Jong-woon will lead the team for the remaining 36 games as acting head coach.
Sutton was appointed Lotte’s second team coach in October 2019 and took over as the first team coach in May 2021 after Heo Moon-ho was sacked. Over the remaining 108 games that year, the team finished seventh with a record of 50 wins, 50 losses and eight draws (0.500 winning percentage). The team finished eighth in 2021 (65 wins, 71 losses, 8 draws, 0.478 win percentage) and eighth in 2022 (64 wins, 76 losses, 4 draws, 0.457 win percentage). This year, the team signed a number of free agents, including Yoo Kang-nam, Noh Jin-hyuk, and Han Hyun-hee, and initially contended for the top spot, but gradually lost steam. The team had a record of 50 wins and 58 losses (0.463 winning percentage), including a seven-game losing streak before resigning. More recently, he suffered from dizziness and left the dugout twice (on the 17th and 27th). His career record is 162 wins, 182 losses, and 12 ties in 356 games (0.471 winning percentage).
The final blow to Sutton’s leadership came in June when rumors of internal discord spilled over into the public domain. As Lotte’s performance faltered after a strong start to the season, there was internal chatter. In the so-called “anthem situation,” pitching coach Bae Young-soo was demoted to the Futures (second team) and Futures head coach Lee Jong-woon was promoted to the first team. The move was considered extremely unusual at the time, as Lee had served as Lotte’s head coach in 2015 and had been sacked just one year into his contract.
Sutton’s departure leaves the KBO without a single foreign manager. Before Sutton, Hanwha Eagles head coach Carlos Subero was fired in May.
In addition to Sutton’s resignation, attention is also focused on the future of Lotte President Sung Min-gyu. Sung took over as the league’s youngest manager in September 2019 after a so-called “process”. He subsequently hired Heo Moon-ho and Sutton, both of whom resigned after failing to fulfill their terms. Failure to develop the team from within, failure to sign free agents, and internal discord within the coaching staff are the report cards he has received so far.