Ace Yang Hyeon-jong (35) guarded, and new leading hitter Na Seong-beom (34) took the 4th hitter. This is the starting lineup that the KIA Tigers started in the regular season opener against the LG Twins on April 2 last year.
Yang Hyeon-jong, who was a franchise star, returned after 안전놀이터challenging the American stage, and Na Seong-beom signed a free agent (FA) contract. KIA invested 10.3 billion won (period 4 years) in Yang Hyeon-jong and 15 billion won (period 6 years) in Na Seong-beom.
Yang Hyeon-jong gave up 4 runs due to a fielder’s mistake in the game against LG that day, but blocked 6 innings without an earned run. Na Seong-beom also played an active part in multi-hits, including doubles. KIA lost to LG 0-9, but the two players played the role of pitching and hitting pillars throughout the regular season, and KIA advanced to the postseason (PS) after 4 years.
It seems difficult to see Yang Hyeon-jong and Na Seong-beom in the 2023 season opener against SSG Landers, which will be held on the 1st of next month. The two players completed the World Baseball Classic (WBC) schedule from the middle of last month to the 13th, but they are struggling to manage their condition after the tournament. There was a setback in the opening preparations.
Yang Hyeon-jong took the mound in an exhibition game against the NC Dinos held at the Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on the 25th and was sluggish, recording 5 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs in 4 innings. He gave up 1 point each in the 1st, 2nd and 4th innings. He also hit three long hits (double and triple).
The number of pitches recorded 80, raising it enough to perform the starting pitcher duties. Restraints are not yet at the normal level. On this day, Yang Hyeon-jong’s four-seam fastball (fastball) highest speed was 144 km/h. The average speed was between 140 and 141 km/h. Last year’s regular season (2022) average fastball speed was 142.4 km/h.
Yang Hyeon-jong made his body in line with the opening of the first round of the WBC Group B. In the game against Australia, which he started on the 9th, he also recorded the highest speed of 146.1 km / h.
However, at that time, Yang Hyeon-jong allowed a home run to Robbie Perkins after receiving two hits in a row and was beaten. Afterwards, he failed to pitch in the remaining three games of the first round. Even during the tournament, it was difficult to see him in a normal physical condition, but the break in practice was prolonged.
After all, Yang Hyeon-jong is building his body again after returning to his team. The opening of the 2023 season is just five days away. Considering Yang Hyeon-jong’s current restraint and pitch, it seems difficult to start the opening game.
The same goes for Na Seong-beom. He returned to his team on the 18th after finishing the WBC national team schedule, but did not play a single at-bat in an exhibition game until the 25th. He says he developed calf pain. It’s not a serious injury that requires long rehab, but he hasn’t played a real game.
Na Seong-beom played only 5 at-bats in the WBC. He performed poorly, with no hits and only two strikeouts. He seems to find it difficult to recover the sense of actual play that was lost before the start of the regular season. Even if it is forced to go to the opening game, it is not a good choice for the team and players. KIA coach Kim Jong-guk also needs to come up with a second best plan.