The Kia Tigers will be tested over the next month or so in the Korea Baseball Organization as they will be forced to play without their biggest offensive sparkplug.
The Tigers, the trendy preseason pick to win it all in 2013, have lost outfielder Kim Joo-chan for up to six weeks.
Kim took a pitch to his left hand in a game against the Hanwha Eagles on Wednesday and X-rays revealed a broken wrist. The team said he is scheduled to undergo surgery on Thursday.
Kim remained in the game after taking the pitch, and even stole second and came around to score on a single by Lee Beom-ho.
Kia Tigers outfielder Kim Joo-chan (Yonhap News)
The news of the fractured wrist came as a shock to manager Sun Dong-yol, who could barely mutter a word even after the Tigers went on to beat the Eagles 12-1.
Last November, the Tigers inked Kim to a four-year deal worth up to 5 billion won ($4.5 million).
They appeared to have overpaid for a 32-year-old with a career batting average of .279, but Kim quickly silenced his critics by leading the KBO in preseason with eight runs scored and 12 hits. (Yonhap News)
Nexen pitchers unable to find strike zone
The Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization have been quite generous early in the 2013 season, and that has actually worked against the team.
Pitchers for the Seoul-based club have been handing out free passes to opposing hitters with alarming regularity. Through four games, the Heroes have issued 27 walks and hit five batters, both second-highest totals in the KBO behind the Hanwha Eagles.
The Heroes have split their four games so far.
The Eagles’ woes had been somewhat expected, for their already thin staff lost No. 1 starter Ryu Hyun-jin to the Los Angeles Dodgers and former big leaguer Park Chan-ho to retirement in the offseason.
They have issued 30 walks and nailed seven batters, and have lost four straight games to start this season.
The Heroes’ tale, if not entirely unexpected, is at least disappointing.
First-year manager Yeom Kyung-yup, who was the team’s third-base coach last year, had stressed the need to cut down on walks all spring. (Yonhap News)