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Baseball player set to take another crack at pitching


All he wants to do is to pitch again.

Kang Ji-kwang of the SK Wyverns will take his second crack at pitching in the pros, his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club announced Monday. His season debut on the mound will come in the Futures League, the KBO's minor league, as early as Tuesday, the Wyverns added.

The 29-year-old was a hard-throwing high school pitcher who converted to an infielder after getting drafted by the LG Twins in 2009. He made his KBO debut with the Nexen (currently Kiwoom) Heroes in 2014 as a hitter and played sparingly as an outfielder over the next three years.

He was picked up by the Wyverns in an offseason draft of unprotected players before the 2018 season, and made a switch to the mound.

He pitched just three innings in 2018 but showed more promise in 25 relief appearances last year, posting a 3.95 ERA across 27 1/3 innings while averaging nearly 150 kilometers per hour (93.2 miles per hour) with his fastball.

Kang didn't pitch after June 16 last year, however, hampered by mysterious pains in his right shoulder. He didn't have any structural damage but the pain wouldn't subside, forcing Kang to move back to hitting.

Kang homered in a preseason game and began the regular season in the Futures League. In his first four games from May 5-8, Kang went 6-for-15 with three doubles.

But the pitching bug bit Kang hard again, and the Wyverns said Kang started throwing again soon after his last game as a hitter.

"Kang will pitch out of the bullpen in a Futures League game as early as Tuesday," a Wyverns official said. "He still wants to pitch. His shoulder has gotten a lot better, and he decided to make the switch again."

If Kang pitches Tuesday, it will come exactly one year after his most recent KBO mound appearance.

The Wyverns are in ninth place among 10 teams at 12-23. They're sixth in team ERA with 4.56 and fifth in bullpen ERA with 4.95. (Yonhap)