“It’s a shame.”
Doosan Bears manager Lee Seung-yeop expressed his sincere regret as he removed pitcher Choi Won-jun (29) from the first-team roster ahead of the team’s game against the Jamsil Samsung Lions on Monday. Choi made his first start against the KIA Tigers in Jamsil on July 7 and pitched five innings and 59 pitches with four hits, no walks and one strikeout in a 3-0 win. It was an important win for the fifth-place Kia Tigers, snapping their 10-game winning streak and marking the resurgence of Choi himself.안전놀이터
But the blisters slowed him down. Choi had thrown just 59 pitches through five innings and was preparing to start the top of the sixth when a blister on his right middle finger peeled off during a practice pitch, forcing him to drop the ball. Once the blister peels off, he needs to rest, and he won’t be able to pitch for at least 10 days, so the team decided to cancel his roster spot.
“I thought it would take some time (to recover). I think it will be difficult in 10 days. If he prepares well, he will have a chance in his next appearance because he pitched well yesterday (July 7).”
Doosan is currently filling the two spots in its starting rotation with alternates, aside from Raul Alcantara, Brandon Waddell and Guk-Bin. Choi Won-jun, Choi Seung-yong, Kim Dong-joo, Park Shin-ji, and Jang Won-jun have gotten opportunities and are preparing to do so as circumstances warrant. If Kwak Bin is sent to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, the Korean pitching staff could be forced to rely on a full complement of alternates.
That’s why Choi Won-jun’s resurgence was so welcome. After winning 10 games as a reliever in 2020, Choi has been a steady presence in the Korean starting rotation, but he struggled this year, going 3-9 with a 5.06 ERA in 22 games and 94⅓ innings pitched. He was sent to the bullpen in the middle of last month and struggled for about a month, until he regained his confidence with a strong performance the day before. He threw his fastball harder than usual, with a top velocity of 143 km/h and an average velocity of 140 km/h, and his changeup, slider, curveball, and changeup worked well.
Lee said, “I think that’s why I got blisters because my hands were filling up with the ball. I felt like I was pitching with power. The best thing was the high strike rate. I was seeing a lot of pitches in the strike zone, even my changeup. There were a lot of balls that went to the front of the fence, but if the ball didn’t have power, it would have gone over,” he said.
Doosan called up left-hander Choi Seung-yong to fill in for Choi Won-joon. Seung-yong Choi had earned the starting job when Won-jun Choi was sent to the bullpen and performed well, but a blister on his finger forced him to spend time recovering in the second team. Seung-yong Choi will start tonight’s game with no pitch count or innings limit.
Still, the search for Choi’s replacement continues. Lee said, “Kim Dong-ju is pitching in the second team, and Park Shin-ji is in the middle, but he is much better than before the season. I will consult with the pitching coach and use a good player.”
Meanwhile, Doosan’s starting lineup against Samsung’s Kim Dae-woo is Jung Soo-bin (center field), Kim Jae-ho (shortstop), Jose Rojas (right field), Yang Ji (designated hitter), Kim Jae-hwan (left field), Yang Seok-hwan (first base), Kang Seung-ho (second base), Ahn Seung-han (catcher), and Heo Kyung-min (third base).