Coach Ryu Joong-il, who will lead the baseball team to the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, is deeply troubled.
Lee Jeong-hoo (25, Kiwoom Heroes), who was the main player for pitching, was injured and was unable to play, and left-hander Koo Chang-mo (26, NC Dinos), who was expected to be an ace, is hardly returning.
In an away game against the Lotte Giants held at Sajik Stadium on the 22nd, Lee Jung-hoo felt pain in his left ankle while defending in the bottom of the 8th inning and was replaced. Afterwards, he was diagnosed with damage to the extensor zone of his left ankle during a hospital examination and was put on the operating table on the 27th.
Since the expected rehabilitation period is three months, Lee Jung-hoo’s participation in the Asian Games is virtually unlikely.
Lee Jung-hoo’s departure is fatal for the national team. The final 24-member entry for the national team announced on the 9th of last month included only three outfielders: Lee Jeong-hoo, Choi Ji-hoon (SSG Landers), and Choi Won-jun (KIA Tigers).
Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz) and Kim Hye-seong (Kiwoom) were judged to be able to digest the outfield defense, and only three professional outfielders were selected, but Lee Jung-hoo was left out, so an additional outfielder had to be selected.
Even if an alternative resource is selected, the vacancy of Lee Jung-hoo is felt greatly. Lee Jung-hoo is by far the best hitter in the league. Since 2017, when he made his pro debut, Lee Jung-hoo has been a ‘regular customer’ of the national team.
It is safe to say that there is no resource that can perfectly replace Lee Jung-hoo, who won the batting average, hits, RBIs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage last year and won five batting crowns and even won the MVP award in the regular season.
There are also concerns on the mound. Gu Chang-mo, who was selected with the intention of taking on the role of the ace, is hardly returning.
Koo Chang-mo complained of discomfort while pitching against the LG Twins in Jamsil on the 2nd of last month and was replaced.꽁머니
Even at the time of the announcement of the final entry for the Hangzhou Asian Games national team, Chang-mo Koo was out due to injury, but coach Joong-il Ryu and the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Power Reinforcement Committee believed that Chang-mo Koo could fully recover by September and included him in the entry.
However, Gu Chang-mo, who did not return until the end of the first half, is still unable to stand on the mound for the first team. He was re-examined on the 21st, and the result was that he had not fully recovered, so he will be re-examined in 3-4 weeks.
Since he can play the role of an ace ‘if he’s not sick’, if Gu Chang-mo can’t come out due to injury, it will be a big bad news for the national team mound.
Koo Chang-mo joined at the end of May due to an injury last year, but achieved a decent record of 11 wins, 5 losses and an ERA of 2.10 in 19 games. Koo Chang-mo also wore the Taegeuk mark at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March of this year.
Although there is no age limit in baseball at the Asian Games, the KBO has established its own age limit system for the development of players’ skills and the smooth generational change of the national team from this tournament. Of the 24 players, 21 were selected as players under the age of 25 or in their 4th year as a pro, and the remaining 3 were filled with wild cards.
In addition, considering the fact that the regular professional baseball league will not be suspended during the Hangzhou Asian Games, it was decided to select a maximum of three players per team.
If Koo Chang-mo, who was selected for the national team as a wild card, fails to appear, it can be used to select an outfielder or pitcher. Of course, if selection is possible among players under the age of 25, he may not take advantage of it.
Currently, LG and KIA Tigers have already selected three players each, and the players of the two teams are excluded from the alternative selection.
Asian Games entries can be replaced before October 1, when the tournament baseball game begins. The national team is scheduled to depart on September 28, and the convocation date has not yet been set.
The coaching staff of the national team and the Power Reinforcement Committee will carefully monitor the situation and select alternative resources.