In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Yang Hyeon-jong of the Texas Rangers pitches against the New York Yankees in the top of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
However temporary it may be, South Korean pitcher Yang Hyeon-jong has earned a place in the starting rotation for the Texas Rangers.
In a pregame interview before hosting the New York Yankees in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday (local time), Rangers manager Chris Woodward said Yang, who started the previous day in place of the injured Kohei Arihara, will get more looks in the rotation.
"As of right now, I'd say Yang probably stays in that spot," Woodward said in a Zoom call. "We're definitely considering other options as we move forward. But if Yang keeps pitching well, he deserves it. He did a good job last night."
Woodward was referring to Yang's solid start against the Yankees at Globe Life Field, where he held the visitors to two runs in a season-high 5 1/3 innings. Yang walked four batters but also induced three double play balls to minimize damage.
Yang still took the loss, as the Rangers got no-hit by New York starter Corey Kluber and fell 2-0. Yang is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA across 21 1/3 innings. He has 15 strikeouts and nine walks.
It was Yang's second career big league start. He has made three bullpen appearances along the way, and he threw at least four innings in each of those relief outings.
Both of Yang's starts came up in Arihara's turn in the rotation. Arihara, a right-hander from Japan, has missed time with finger issues. He was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 9, and Woodward said he will have more information on the pitcher's status in the next couple of days.
A 14-year veteran for the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Yang signed a minor league deal with the Rangers in February but failed to make the team out of spring training. He got called up from the alternate training site on April 26 and has been with the big league club since.
Yang, 33, has mostly been a starter in the KBO and won the regular season and Korean Series MVP awards in that role in 2017. (Yonhap)