‘Unlucky national team exit’ Hanwha’s Pil Seung-jo ends up on the operating table…will also join the military
Hanwha pitcher Kang Jae-min (26) is finally going under the knife.
“Kang Jae-min has decided to undergo elbow surgery,” Hanwha head coach Choi Won-ho said of the 26-year-old before the team’s 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against KIA at Daejeon’s Hanwha Life Eagles Park on April 21.
Kang was removed from the first team roster on June 6 due to right elbow pain and is scheduled to undergo elbow ligament ligation surgery on June 25. After the surgery, he plans to undergo initial rehabilitation and rejoin the military. Elbow ligament reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery, usually requires a rehabilitation period of more than a year. If Kang undergoes the surgery, he will most likely not be on the roster next year, so it’s a move to resolve his military issues at the same time.
Choi Won-ho said, “We tried to push him to the end of the season as much as possible, but in the end, he decided to have the surgery. “It’s hard to go straight to the army because he has to undergo surgery and initial rehabilitation,” Choi said, “so we don’t know when he will join the army.” It’s still unknown when he will join the army. His decision to enlist in the army will be determined by a post-operative examination.
Kang is in his fourth year of professional baseball. He joined Hanwha in 2020 and began to make a name for himself in his rookie season, appearing in 50 games and pitching 49 innings, posting a 1-2 record with one save and a 2.57 ERA in 14 appearances.
In 2021, he made 58 appearances and pitched 63⅓ innings, going 2-1 with five saves and a 2.13 ERA in 13 starts. He was considered for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but ultimately did not make the team. His omission sparked a debate on the internet baseball community about why he wasn’t selected.
After appearing in 56 games and pitching 51⅓ innings last year, posting a 4-8 record with seven saves and a 4.21 ERA, Kang struggled this year, going 1-3 with a 6.44 ERA in 43 games and 12 innings pitched. The lingering effects of elbow pain have also contributed to his struggles this season. This year, he tried to make the national team for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, but the situation didn’t work out.
This leaves Hanwha with the immediate task of finding a new closer to fill the void left by Kang’s injury next year. Currently, Hanwha has Park Sang-won as its closer, Kim Bum-soo and Joo Hyun-sung are utilized as fill-ins, and right-hander Lee Min-woo has recently been converted into a short-inning reliever rather than a traditional starter or long reliever.캡틴토토
Hanwha will play the remainder of the season with Kang Jae-min out for the season. Currently in eighth place with 51 wins, 67 losses and six ties (.432 winning percentage), Hanwha trails seventh-place Lotte by 4.5 games. Hanwha, which will play sixth-place KIA later in the day, will send starter Felix Peña to the mound, and the starting lineup is Lee Jin-young (center field), Choi In-ho (left field), Noh Si-hwan (third base), Nick Williams (designated hitter), Chae Eun-sung (first base), Kim Tae-yeon (right field), Moon Hyun-bin (second base), Lee Do-yoon (shortstop), and Choi Jae-hoon (catcher).