“Lee Jung-hoo is missing. Koo Chang-mo and Lee Yi-ri also need to be evaluated.”
So said Ryu Joong-il, head coach of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games team, during a phone call with Star News late last month. A month before the first baseball game of the Asian Games (Oct. 1), there were still many roster concerns.먹튀검증
In June, Ryu announced the final 24-man roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games. This time around, the selection process was slightly different. In a generational change to foster key players for future international competitions without interrupting the league, players aged 25 or younger and in their fourth year of play were selected, and three players aged 29 or younger were allowed to be selected as wild cards.
Ryu said, “First of all, we didn’t pick the best players in the KBO, but we picked them with an age limit. “The pitchers and hitters who dominate the league are almost all in their 30s,” said Ryu. “It’s a shame that we don’t have players with enough experience. We need to use the youthful spirit to motivate the players so that the coaching staff and players, including myself, can work together to win the gold medal.”
We had a small pool to begin with, and there were injuries. Athletes can be substituted in the run-up to the Games if they are injured. However, we have to deal with players who are unable to play.
The best hitter in the KBO, Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), is out for the season due to injury. The team is struggling to find a replacement. In addition, there were concerns about Koo Chang-mo and Lee Yi-ri.
While the injured players are complicating Ryu’s headache, NC catcher Kim Hyung-jun has been a big help. After showing promise with a .306 batting average in 44 games last year, Kim disappeared from the first team after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery on his right knee in August last year.
After a lengthy rehabilitation, he returned to the team on March 24 against the SSG Landers and immediately made a splashy debut with two home runs. After a brief hiatus, he returned to action with another multi-homer game against Samsung Electronics on the 1st of this month. Of his seven hits this season, more than half of them are long balls. It’s a small sample size, but his on-base percentage is a whopping 0.909 (0.318 batting average).
His return to the international scene is all the more encouraging because he has the ability to turn the tide once and for all.
“I didn’t see any young catchers, but the reason I picked NC Hyung-jun despite his injury was that he has potential,” said Ryu Joong-il. “The power enhancement committee and the coaching staff said that he is a good catcher if he heals from his injury, and I’m looking forward to his performance at the plate, including his recent home run in consecutive at-bats.”
There’s other good news, too. Lee returned to the roster on March 3 against the SSG Landers after being sidelined for 10 days with shoulder inflammation. He had a disappointing outing, giving up four runs on four hits (two homers) in three innings with three walks and four strikeouts, but he was in the most important physical condition.
Koo Chang-Mo has been out for three months with forearm soreness, but he recently started playing catch. The plan is to gradually increase the intensity through long tosses, and he could be back in action as early as the 22nd before the national team’s call-up.
Na Kyun-ahn (Lotte Giants), who spent 10 days on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury and then another 10 days on the second team, made his comeback last month on the 19th and pitched a stellar game against KT on the 27th, striking out nine in seven innings.
The team will convene on Feb. 22 and train for about a week before flying to China. They will begin their quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal on March 1 against Hong Kong.
It will be important to see how much the players can improve in the remaining days. “Even the players who are not in good shape should be able to improve their performance by then (October) because the heat will be gone,” Liu said.