When “40-year-old fixer” Choi Hyung-woo was rushed to the ambulance with a broken collarbone, the KIA captain had a new goal. The team must finish in the top five this season and give fall baseball to Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-beom, who are rehabbing from injuries.
Choi Hyung-woo hit a grounder to second base in the seventh inning of a game against KT in Gwangju on March 24, and while heading to first base, he tripped over first baseman Park Byung-ho’s leg and fell heavily. Choi wrapped his left shoulder and complained of considerable pain, eventually leaving the stadium in an ambulance.
A medical examination revealed the devastating news. He was diagnosed with a comminuted fracture of the left clavicle and a damaged scapular joint, and a clavicle immobilization procedure was decided. With a major injury that will take about four months to rehabilitate, the season was decided to end in the midst of the ranking battle.
Kim Sun-bin, who hit the game-winning hit against KT in Suwon on March 3, said, “Choi (Hyung-woo) is not a player who really gets hurt. When I saw him get into the ambulance, I thought he was in trouble. “I recently contacted him to see if he was okay, and fortunately, he replied that he was fine,” he said, recalling the dizzying moment.
Before Choi, Kia suffered another setback when another fixer, Na Sung-bum, was ruled out for the season. Na injured his thigh while running for a base against the Gwangju LG on September 19, and after a medical examination, he was diagnosed with a right thigh hamstring injury and a 10- to 12-week rehabilitation. Na Sung-bum was a key player in the Tigers’ offense this season, batting .306 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs in 58 games, while Choi Hyung-woo batted .302 with 17 home runs and 81 RBIs in 121 games.
KIA has played eight games so far without both players at the same time, going 4-4 for a barely respectable 5 percent winning percentage. However, the results of the last two weekends were painful. On September 30 and October 1 in Incheon, the Tigers suffered back-to-back one-point losses against ranked rivals SSG, dropping them to sixth place, 2.5 games behind fifth-place SSG.
“After (Choi) Hyung-woo and (I) Sung-beom went down with injuries, the team’s mood sagged,” Kim said. “I went to Changwon and told the players, ‘We have to do it even without our main players. It would be a shame to give up,’” he said. “So now I can see that the players are a little more focused on the field. I feel like the team has become more cohesive.”메이저사이트
It was the idea of catcher Kim Tae-gun to find a way to join Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-beom on their fall baseball journey. The idea was to play with their jerseys hanging in the dugout.
Starting with the game against Changwon NC, KIA then followed up with games against Gochuk Kiwoom, Incheon SSG, and Suwon KT, all of which featured the jerseys of the two players on one side of the dugout, indirectly honoring their spirit.
“At first, (Kim) Tae-gun suggested it, but everyone said yes,” Kim said. “Last year, we played fall baseball, but this year, we want to do it longer. There are still games left, so we will do our best until the end,” Kim said.