It’s a series of nightmares.
A red flag has turned on for the KIA Tigers, who were aiming to play fall baseball for two consecutive years. Shortstop Park Chan-ho suffered a finger injury, catcher Kim Tae-gun suffered an ankle sprain, and key hitter Na Seong-beom was ruled out for the season.
This is not the end. Players who will soon join the Hangzhou Asian Games national team are also waiting. Starting left-hander Lee Ui-ri, bullpen member Choi Ji-min, and outfielder Choi Won-jun join Ryu Joong-il. There is a gap in the starting position throughout the two-hit field.Park Chan-ho, who was diagnosed for three weeks, recently began batting training and showed rapid recovery. If the pain goes away, it is likely that he will return to the starting lineup within this week. However, it is unclear whether he will perform as well as before his injury. Given that it is an injury to the finger area that directly affects hitting, if the pain recurs, it could lead to a bigger gap, so be cautious. On the 19th, the day after showing symptoms of an ankle sprain, Kim Tae-gun came on as a pinch hitter in the second half of the game against the Gwangju LG Twins and played in batting, base running, and defense. The fact that he is putting up with his injury and playing in the game is bound to increase his concerns. In the end, the use of both players is far from perfect.
An outfield where two players are out at once. Alternative resources exist. Ko Jong-wook, Lee Chang-jin, and Lee Woo-sung, who showed good performance in the backup rotation this season, are expected to fill the corner outfield spot. For the center fielder position, Kim Ho-ryeong, who is waiting for the Futures (2nd team) team, can be used. However, there are limits to filling the void left by Na Seong-beom, the central hitter, with alternative resources.
On the mound, Yang Hyun-jong, Yoon Young-cheol, and Thomas Panoni are maintaining the starting rotation, while Mario Sanchez returns on the 21st. The starting rotation spot vacated by Lee Ui-ri is expected to be filled by alternate starters Kim Geon-guk, Kim Jae-yeol, and Hwang Dong-ha. However, all three players will have to endure the bullpen load as it was revealed in the previous substitute pitching game that it is not easy for them to take on long innings.
In the end, 안전놀이터 KIA must play the remaining 22 games with nearly half of its strength missing. Veteran Choi Hyeong-woo and Kim Sun-bin are holding up in the fielding lineup, but the physical strain appears to be evident as the season enters the latter half of the season. On the mound, both the starters and the bullpen are feeling considerable fatigue as injuries and poor performance have continued throughout this season. It is the worst situation due to injuries and bad news for the national team.
KIA still has the spark to advance to fall baseball. If we can get as many wins as possible in the remaining games, we can aim to move up the rankings.
Meanwhile, bench capacity is expected to be an important factor in KIA’s future actions. It has become important to know how efficiently the gap between two and hit is filled and what kind of judgment is made in each game situation to manage the game.
So far, the keynote of the KIA bench has been autonomy and trust. The focus was on ensuring that players with each ability were faithful to their positions without feeling pressured. However, the recent situation is moving towards a trend where a breakthrough can be achieved only when the bench plays a more active role in resolving the situation.
With the recent 6 consecutive losses, the team is struggling to make progress. What kind of answer will KIA find?