“At the earliest, late April, at the latest, May.”
A representative player not seen in the KIA’s Tucson, Arizona spring camp roster is right-handed bullpen Jang Hyun-shik. Jang Hyun-sik has been known as the key to the KIA bullpen since his previous manager days. In the 2022 season, he went 2-3 with 1 save and 19 holds in 54 games with an earned run average of 3.12. Total 306 games, 70 holds, ERA 5.16.
However, Hyunsik Jang has suffered frequent residual injuries in the past 1-2 years. He was also on the injured list last year, once in the first and second half. At the end of the season, he underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment in his elbow. In the first place, it seemed that there would be no problem in preparing for the 2023 season, but in the end, after the start of the season, at least one month without Jang Hyun-sik, we have to organize a winning line.
Rather, a crisis is an opportunity. In addition to Hyunsik Jang, Sanghyun Jeon also has an injury issue. Closer Jeong Hae-young was also placed on the injured list. In the long term, it is necessary to lower the dependency on Triple J and improve the structure of the bullpen. In this respect, left-handed sidearm Kim Dae-yu, who was recruited as a compensation player for Park Dong-won (LG), and Kim Ki-hoon and Yoon Young-chul, who compete for starters, are representative.
In addition to Lee Jun-young and Kim Dae-yu, one of Yoon Young-chul or Kim Ki-hoon joins as the left-handed setup man. Beyond the purpose of supporting Jeon Sang-hyun and Jung Hae-young, it can become a kind of ‘second unit’ for success. Lee Jun-young’s slider, Kim Dae-yu’s uniqueness, Yoon Young-cheol’s ability to run games like a non-rookie, and Kim Ki-hoon’s improved command are the assets of the KIA mound. 안전놀이터
Director Kim Jong-guk said, “It would be nice if all of them became Pil Seung-jo, but I wonder if the depth is getting thicker. And the left-hand bullpen and the right-hand bullpen have been balanced.” In particular, we plan to test the potential of Kim Ki-hoon, who has prepared well for the season. Depending on Kim Ki-hoon’s position, the direction of traffic control on the mound may change.
The KIA mound has the potential to gain momentum compared to last year. There are signs that both quantity and quality are improving. Lim Ki-young, who has been responsible for the back of the starting lineup for the past few years, can also return to the bullpen this year. Therefore, it is correct to set the time of Jang Hyun-sik’s return as conservatively as possible.
Anyway, Hyunsik Jang plans to improve his condition in Hampyeong for the time being. He came out of the rest phase without catching the ball. He will be rehabilitated over the next month and will be a real help to the team when he joins. If the Kia bullpen lays the groundwork for a rebuild or retool by then, that’s a good thing in the long run.