KIA with bad news, the support is the eldest brothers Choi Hyung-woo and Yang Hyeon-jong
The KIA Tigers, who had bad news before the opening, finished the first half in 6th place (36 wins, 1 draw, 39 losses) and made a stepping stone to enter the upper ranks. Yang Hyeon-jong (35) and Choi Hyeong-woo (39), the two main pillars, held the center.스포츠토토
On March 29, three days before the opening of the regular season, KIA’s command tower left the team. It was revealed that former general manager Jang Jeong-seok demanded back money while negotiating a long-term contract with former player Park Dong-won (LG Twins). In the end, the club dismissed former general manager Jang.
The squad was also messed up. Lead hitter Na Seong-beom missed the opening entry after suffering a fascia damage in his left calf while digesting the schedule for the national team of the World Baseball Classic (WBC). After the opening, setup man Jang Hyeon-shik and closer Jeong Hae-young performed sluggishly, and the bullpen faltered.
The player who led the team through the crisis at the beginning of the season was Choi Hyeong-woo, the “eldest brother.” In a home game against the Samsung Lions on April 21, he hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, when the team was losing 2-4, leading the team to victory. KIA, which fell to the bottom with 10 losses (4 wins) in the previous 14 games, changed the atmosphere starting with the Samsung match, and then rebounded with 8 wins (2 losses) in 10 games.
Choi Hyung-woo, who had not lived up to his name for the previous two seasons (2021-2022), showed his rust-free skills by hitting a batting average of 0.320 (6th in the league) by May. He suffered a short slump from mid-June, but regained his sense of hitting, such as hitting two home runs against opposing ace Kim Gwang-hyun in the last 6th match against SSG, and led KIA’s 6-game winning streak at the end of the first half. KIA coach Kim Jong-guk also picked Choi Hyung-woo as the team’s best hitter in the first half.
On the mound, Yang Hyeon-jong, the ace, became a support for the shaking starters. In the KIA, foreign pitchers Adonis Medina and Sean Anderson were sluggish in April and May, respectively, and in 2021, Rookie of the Year domestic pitcher Lee Eui-ri was unable to play’starting baseball’ because he was unable to digest many innings due to the 1st pitch hunting with excessive walks.
Yang Hyeon-jong, who only played one game in the WBC, threw more than 5 innings and less than 3 earned runs in the opening 8 games in a row, erasing concerns that he would have lost his sense of practice. In the game against LG on May 27th, he led KIA to a 6-3 victory with 3 runs in 6 2/3 innings and added a multiplier. Ranked 2nd in the category alone.
Yang Hyeon-jong also fell into a slump for a while, such as giving up 9 runs against Lotte on June 2 and getting 11 hits in the next appearance against SSG in Gwangju on the 7th, but after that, he played more than 5 innings in all 5 games and raised the pace again.
Yang Hyeon-jong and Choi Hyeong-woo’s true value shone even more off the pitch. Yang Hyeon-jong helped with mental management by frequently talking with young pitchers Eui-ri Lee and Young-cheol Yoon, who had ups and downs in their performance. Eui-ri Lee said, “I learn a lot from the always steady pitching and advice of senior Yang Hyeon-jong.” Choi Hyung-woo also praises the achievements of junior beastmen such as Lee Woo-seong and Ko Jong-wook in the game in which he played a big role. Regarding controversial situations such as his referee’s decision, he did not hesitate to reveal his convictions and tried to boost his team’s morale.