Sutton, tired and lonely after poor performance, finally packs his bags

Larry Sutton, manager of the Lotte Giants, put down the baton.

The Lotte club announced on the 28th, “Coach Sutton expressed his gratitude for health reasons after the match against KT Wiz on the 27th 스포츠토토. The club accepts Sutton’s will after careful consideration.” 

Lotte played the game against KT the previous day under the acting supervisory system of head coach Lee Jong-woon. The Lotte club explained the reason, saying, “Director Sutton returned home for health reasons after going to the baseball field.” At the time, manager Sutton informed the club of his intention to resign and said goodbye to some players. 

Coach Sutton has been under extreme stress amid poor grades recently. On the 17th, ahead of the Busan LG Twins game, rumors of health problems circulated. Attending the official press conference before the game, he drew the line, “Where did the story of ‘I fell down’ come from? 

However, he eventually complained of dizziness and vacated the director’s seat that day. As a result of the hospital examination, no special diagnosis or abnormality was found, but abnormal symptoms continued. An official said, “It was also difficult for Sutton to be in the dugout. Due to the stress caused by poor grades, he recently suffered symptoms similar to panic disorder.” 

Coach Sutton, who played for the Hyundai Unicorns-KIA Tigers as a player, took the helm of the Futures (second team) league from finishing training in 2019 and started a relationship with Lotte. In mid-May 2021, Lotte sacked former coach Heo Moon-hoe and entrusted the first team to Sutton, who was leading the second team. In 2021, Lotte, who was in last place with 12 wins and 18 losses (0.400 win rate) under former coach Heo, recorded 53 wins, 53 losses and 8 draws with a win rate of 0.500 in the remaining games after Sutton took over. Accordingly, Lotte extended the contract with manager Sutton, which was until 2022, by one year, guaranteeing his tenure until 2023. Last year, when coach Sutton led the team for the first time since spring camp, Lotte finished 8th (64 wins, 76 losses, 4 draws). 

Ahead of this season, Lotte spent 19 billion won in paid-in capital increase from its parent group on recruiting free agents (FA). However, a red light was turned on in the challenge to advance to the postseason (PS) in six years. It passed April, the first month of the regular season, in first place, and formed a top-three system with the LG Twins and SSG Landers by early June. However, after June it started to deteriorate. By mid-August, he had been on the rise with 8 wins and 2 losses, but recently fell into a 7-game losing streak and fell away from the top 5 fight again. As of the 28th, the 5th place KIA, which is the last line to advance to the postseason, and the ride took place up to 5 games. Lotte has only 36 remaining games left, so it is not easy to reverse.

The sluggish performance made Sutton isolated. In the preceding two years, there were three foreign coaches on the bench for the first team. Foreign coaches left this year, and a large number of domestic coaches were recruited. In addition, Sutton has shared baseball philosophy with Lotte general manager Seong Min-gyu, but the atmosphere has changed this season. In June, when pitching coach Bae Young-soo went down to the 2nd team, even internal conflicts surfaced. Since then, doubts about Sutton’s leadership have risen. 

Ultimately, Sutton decided to lay down his baton rather than fill out the remainder of his tenure. Following Yang Sang-moon and Heo Moon-hoe, three Lotte coaches, including Sutton, left without being able to fill the contract period in a row. Head coach Lee Jong-woon, who took command of the first team in 2015, will lead Lotte as acting manager for the remainder of the season.