South Korea’s baseball team, looking to win a third consecutive Asian Games title, has been plagued by injuries. Last season’s KBO Most Valuable Player (MVP) Lee Jung-hoo (25-KI) is out for the season, and the availability of Koo Chang-mo (26-NC), who is supposed to be the left-handed ace, is unclear. With Kang Baek-ho (24-KT) and Jang Hyun-seok (19-Yongmago) also questionable, Ryu Joong-il, who will lead the Korean baseball team at the Hangzhou Asian Games, is considering his options. However, the Asian Games gold medal comes with a huge benefit of exemption from military service, so the players who have not resolved their military issues are strongly motivated to participate.안전놀이터
Kang Baek-ho, who was expected to bat in the center of the lineup, has not been performing well despite no physical injuries. After being sent down to the second team in early June, Kang returned a month later with a noticeable weight loss. The team explained that the weight loss was due to hard work in training, but he struggled in July, batting .136 and striking out nine times while hitting three home runs. After taking a break, Kang returned to the Futures League on July 1 and is batting .250 (2-for-8) in three games.
It is widely believed that the cause of his slump is not a physical problem, but a mental injury. There is no exact diagnosis as Kang has not yet visited a doctor. However, some have speculated that he may be suffering from a similar problem to the panic disorder suffered by Park Ji-soo (25-KB), one of the top players in the women’s professional basketball league. Park was dropped from the national team and spent five months rehabilitating before returning to play.
Kang Baek-ho, on the other hand, hasn’t even been diagnosed yet, so it’s hard to say, but it’s still up in the air whether he’ll be able to return to the national team at full strength. Add to that the fact that he has been at the center of controversy at every international tournament, and there is a chance that his condition could worsen if he leads the team with a less-than-perfect body. It’s also important to note that Na Ji Wan (retired) came under fire at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon when it was later revealed that he competed while hiding an injury.
Ryu is also concerned about this, but the team says it’s not a serious situation. “He hasn’t been to the hospital, but he’s had plenty of rest,” said a KT official. “He’s been training regularly to keep his body in shape, and the rehabilitation group has determined that he can return.” Kang Baek-ho was added to the first team roster on May 5 against LG at KT Wiz Park in Suwon. He came up to bat with runners on second and third in the bottom of the third inning, but struck out.
Jang Hyun-seok, the only high school player to make the team, also came with a question mark over his physical condition. Jang Hyun-seok was not seen at the Bonghwangdae, which he said was his “final stage. The tournament also disrupted Ryu’s plans to evaluate Jang Hyun-seok and figure out how to utilize him. Jang hadn’t thrown a ball for a long time, and his sense of practice had become dulled. Jang, who is signed to the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB), will have to complete his military service at the Asian Games to be able to play in the United States without restrictions. Jang Hyun-seok’s agent said, “He did not take the mound based on the manager’s judgment, but there is nothing wrong with his health.
A KBO official said, “We will conduct a medical check to ensure that (Jang Hyun-seok) has no problems with participating in the tournament,” adding, “The final decision will be made 22 days before the national team convenes.”