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Baseball's defending champ loses reliever for title defense

Defending South Korean baseball champion Doosan Bears said Thursday they will be without a key reliever in their title defense.

The Korea Baseball Organization club said right-hander Jung Jae-hoon will not be available for the Korean Series with a broken right shoulder. The best-of-seven series is scheduled to begin on Oct. 29.

The Bears earned the bye to the Korean Series by winning the pennant. They won the KBO championship in 2015, too.

Jung, a 14-year veteran, went 1-5 this year with 23 holds, while posting a 3.27 ERA in 52 1/3 innings. He struck out 56 and walked 17. He also has experience closing games, having recorded 111 saves from 2005 to 2008.

Jung last pitched on Aug. 3, when he took a batted ball to his right arm and suffered a fracture. After completing rehab, Jung took the mound in an exhibition game on Tuesday in Japan, but left after five pitches with shoulder pain. Tests revealed a partial fracture in his right shoulder.

The Bears boasted the league's best rotation with a 4.11 ERA and led the KBO with 822 innings pitched. But their bullpen only had a 5.08 ERA, fifth in the KBO.

Their closer, Lee Hyun-seung, had 25 saves, but had a 4.84 ERA, nearly two full runs worse than a year ago.

The Bears' vaunted rotation will have to come up big again in their title defense. The Bears became the first KBO team with four 15-game winners, as Dustin Nippert (22 wins), Michael Bowden (18), Chang Won-jun (15) and Yoo Hee-kwan (15) combined for 70 wins. (Yonhap)