“I haven’t heard your name in a long time (laughs).”
When asked about the status of Lee Yong-kyu (38), Kiwoom Heroes head coach Hong Won-ki gave a knowing smile.
It’s been over a month since Yong-kyu was removed from the first team roster. When he was diagnosed with a right wrist sprain and placed on the 10-day disabled list last month, it seemed like he would be able to shake it off and return soon. Kiwoom believed that Yong-kyu would be able to play a role as a pinch-hitter and defender, so they placed him on the disabled list instead of waiving him. However, his condition showed no signs of improving, and on May 20, the team decided to remove him from the first team.
More than a month later, there hasn’t been much change in Yong-kyu’s condition. “I recently met him at Gocheok Sky Dome and talked to him. He said he’s doing well with his rehabilitation program.” “It’s taking longer than I thought. I cautiously expect that it will be difficult to see him before the All-Star break.”
Prior to his injury, Yong-kyu was batting 2-for-5 (21 for 84) with no home runs and seven RBIs in 28 games. In addition to his skills – excellent contact, quick feet, 메이저놀이터 and wide defensive range – he was a veteran anchor in the dugout. The loss of a veteran presence on and off the field is bad news for the team.
Kiwoom turned to Kim Jun-wan, 32, to fill the void left by Lee Yong-kyu’s departure. Although Kim has been playing well in the offense, it’s hard to expect him to take on 100% of Lee Yong-kyu’s workload. “Kim Jun-wan is doing a good job, but there’s a big difference between having Yong-kyu in the lineup and not having him,” Hong admitted.
After a thorny start to the season with injuries and poor play, Kiwoom has been slowly climbing the standings as of late, racking up wins. It’s not much different from the way the team used to play in the fall baseball season, when they were a bit sluggish at the beginning of the season and then surged after the middle of the season. With the return of veteran Lee Yong-kyu, the team will have a little more room to maneuver and a lighter footing heading into the fall. Kiwoom is hoping for a quick return.