Koo Chang-mo (NC), the national left-hander and ace candidate, was expected to return before the call-up. He is also expected to miss the Asian Games. With only two left-handed pitchers on the national team, what to do about the lefty famine?
Koo Chang-mo is unlikely to return to action before September. NC Dinos manager Kang Myung-ho announced that Koo Chang-mo will undergo a second examination in mid-August before the team’s game against the Busan Lotte Giants on Aug. 2. He also said that the team needs to check his medical rehabilitation status first after he received a second checkup in mid-August.
“I think you all know that he hasn’t been able to enter technical training right now,” said NC manager Kang In-hwa, adding that he is still in the rehabilitation phase, “(Koo) had a checkup on the 21st of last month and decided to have another checkup in three to four weeks. We don’t know if it will be three weeks or four weeks yet, but I think it will be around mid-August,” he said of his upcoming checkup.
He has only been given an approximate date for his re-examination and has not yet been scheduled for skills training. Koo was scratched from the first-team roster on June 3 due to a left forearm flexor injury. He rehabbed in Japan and returned home on June 23, but was also diagnosed with a fatigue fracture of the ulna in his left arm. His rehabilitation has been slowed down by the fact that the fracture occurred again after surgery for the same injury in 2021.
“I think I’ll probably have another checkup in three weeks, and then another one in a week, and then another one in about four weeks, but I don’t know if I’ll have another checkup, but I think I’ll have to see the process and the condition of the checkup to make the next schedule,” Kang said.
This means that I could be facing one more recheck after my mid-August recheck for my ulnar stress fracture. And even if the results are favorable, it will take more time for him to start working on his technique and get into throwing shape. In essence, this is why a return before September is unlikely.
Since being drafted by NC in the second round (3rd overall) in 2015, Koo has been one of the top left-handers in the KBO behind Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG) and Yang Hyun-jong (KIA), posting a 46-34 record with a 3.74 ERA in 163 games (628.2 innings) until last year.
In particular, Koo Chang-mo, who returned from a major injury last season, went 11-5 with a 2.10 ERA in 19 games, making him NC’s homegrown ace and the league’s best left-hander. This season, he’s been just as good, going 1-3 with a 3.26 ERA, but his glass body has returned.
Koo’s delayed rehabilitation is the biggest misfortune for him and the NC, but it’s also an emergency for the national team. The Korean baseball team for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in October is scheduled to convene in September. Even if the prognosis for Koo Chang-mo’s recovery from his injury is good by mid-August, there is no guarantee that he will be able to complete his rehabilitation period before the call-up, and there is no guarantee that he will be back on track.안전놀이터
Ryu Joong-il’s team can’t realistically wait for Koo Chang-mo to return. Of the 12 pitchers on the roster announced in June, only three were left-handers, including Koo Chang-mo, and the other nine were all right-handers. If Koo is removed from the roster, KIA’s left-handed duo of Choi Ji-min and Lee Yi-ri will be the only ones left.
While both Choi Ji-min and Lee Yi-ri have been performing well for KIA this season, they don’t carry the same weight or experience as Koo Chang-mo, who was initially drafted and selected as the national ace. As a result, the team needs to find a left-handed pitcher to replace Koo Chang-mo, or at least an ace on par with him.