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KBO still recovering from APBC injuries

May 10,2018
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From left: Park Se-woong of the Lotte Giants, Im Gi-yeong of the Kia Tigers and Jang Hyun-sik of the NC Dinos. [NEWS1]
The KBO’s young stars didn’t get much of a break after the 2017 season, as the Asia Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) - a competition only open to young or inexperienced players - took place in Tokyo in November 2017.

Last year’s tournament marked the first time that the majority of the players on the national team were KBO first team stars, and the impact of the extended season is still taking its toll. A number of pitchers that played for the national team at the end of last year have still not made an appearance on the mound this season.

The players that were chosen for the APBC are supposed to be the next big stars of the KBO, representing the country again at the 2018 Asian Games. Instead, some of the exhausted stars can barely limp out of the dugout.

At the APBC, each team is only allowed to bring players under the age of 24 or with three years or less of professional experience - as well as three wild cards. Korea finished second, losing to Japan in the final.

The pitchers that started at the APBC are seriously struggling this season. Park Se-woong, who started in the final game of the APBC, hasn’t yet thrown another pitch due to an elbow injury. Last season Park was a vital player in the Lotte Giants’ pitching rotation, picking up 12 wins and six losses with a 3.68 ERA.

During March spring training in Okinawa, Japan, Park complained of elbow pain. He hasn’t thrown a ball since. With the absence of Park, the Giants rank seventh in terms of ERA this season, at 5.07.

But it’s not only the Giants that are in need of help.

The Kia Tigers are also missing their young pitcher, Im Gi-yeong. At the APBC, Im started in the game against Chinese Taipei. Though Im returned to the Tigers, he started his season later than the others, joining the starting lineup on April 21 after a shoulder injury. In three games, Im has picked up one win and two losses with a 4.50 ERA. The Tigers are currently struggling to hold onto fourth place.

The NC Dinos had the dubious honor of sending the most players to the APBC. Not only their pitcher, Jang Hyun-sik, but the four batters they sent are also struggling to get back in shape. The Dinos are currently in ninth place.

BY KIM WON [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]