The Lotte Giants, who are fighting for a spot in the top five, are being haunted by “injury demons. Their starting catcher is out of the first-team roster and two veteran hitters are out of the game.
Ahead of Lotte’s 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against the KIA Tigers at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on April 29, the team lost Yoo Kang-nam to the first team roster, and during the game, second baseman Ahn Chi-hong (33) and first baseman Jung Hoon (36) returned to the bench due to injuries.
Lotte started the game with the following lineup: Yoon Dong-hee (right fielder), Nico Goodrum (shortstop), Ahn Chi-hong (second baseman), Jeon Jun-woo (designated hitter), Jeong Hoon (first baseman), Han Dong-hee (third baseman), Kim Min-seok (center fielder), Son Sung-bin (catcher), and Shin Yoon-hoo (left fielder).
Prior to the start of the game, Lotte removed Yoo Kang-nam from the lineup after he felt discomfort in his left adductor region while swinging in the previous game. Lotte manager Larry Sutton, 53, explained Yoo’s condition, saying, “He has a small damage to his side,” adding, “(The doctor’s opinion) is that it will take two to three weeks.”
Yoo, who signed a four-year, 8 billion won free agent contract before the season, has played in 81 games this year, batting .226 with six home runs, 29 RBIs and an OPS of .641. While he hasn’t been impressive at the plate, he’s been good at providing leadership and long-term framing to stabilize pitchers. As such, Yoo’s absence will be a big one.
Two more players left during the game. Ahn Chi-hong, batting third, was hit by a three-pitch changeup in the top of the first inning, but after swinging, he grimaced in pain. Ahn played normal defense in the first inning, but eventually suffered from left back bile and was replaced by Park Seung-wook (31) in the second inning for player protection.안전놀이터
In the bottom of the second inning, the defense also lost first baseman Jeong Hoon. While attempting to make a diving catch of a sharp hit by leadoff hitter Choi Hyung-woo, Jeong was hit on the wrist by the ball. Looking pained, Jung-hoon spoke with the coaching staff and went straight to the bench. Noh Jin-hyuk (34) entered Jung-hoon’s batting order and played shortstop. “He will be taken to the hospital for a checkup,” a Lotte official said.
Lotte is in sixth place with a season winning percentage of 0.488 (41-43) with 29 games remaining. They are 0.5 games behind the fifth-place KT Wiz, so they can still hold out hope for fall baseball. However, with every game counting, the loss of three main players at once has deepened their struggles.