Kia Tigers enter ‘holding mode’ until June as they wait for reinforcements
The Kia Tigers are starting the season without their top hitters.
Injuries have hit them hard since before the start of the season. Na Sung-beom, who has been dealing with a calf injury since his participation in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), skipped an exhibition game and was not named to the opening roster.
It didn’t appear to be a major injury, but an examination early last month revealed a damaged left calf muscle. He was expected to be out for eight weeks.
There were more injuries after the opening day. Second-year professional infielder Kim Do-young, who was expected to lead the batting lineup this season, fractured his left pinky toe while running the bases against SSG Landers on March 2, just two games into the season. The injury was expected to take up to four months to heal.
Despite the injuries to their top hitters, KIA is still in third place with a team batting average of .260. However, other metrics have not been as good.
After leading the league with a .398 team on-base percentage last year, KIA is down to seventh with a .351 mark this year. The team’s OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), which led the league last year at 0.747, is now sixth at 0.678.
The KIA bats have also been up and down.
KIA dropped five games from the 10th against SSG to the 14th against Doosan Bears, and the bats were the deciding factor. They only scored a total of 12 runs during the five-game losing streak.
However, in their three games from the 16th against the Samsung Lions to the 19th against the Kiwoom Heroes, they scored more than seven runs in each game.
For the struggling KIA, the reinforcements they’ve been waiting for are coming.
On the 23rd, Na Sung-bum was diagnosed as having recovered more than 90% of his calf in a second examination. He will undergo strength training, technical training, and running training for about two to three weeks before deciding whether or not to play in the Futures (second team) League.
Na is aiming to return at the end of next month.
Kim Do-young has also been told that his fracture is 90% healed, so he will begin light running and partial technical training. After three to four weeks of technical training, the plan is to schedule a Futures League match.
If there are no major problems during technical training, Kim is expected to return in early July.
Kia has another backup. Outfielder Won-jun Choi will be discharged from the military in the middle of next month after completing his service with the organization.
An integral part of the outfield since 2018, Choi batted .326 with two home runs, 35 RBI, 14 doubles, and 72 runs scored in 2020 and followed that up with a solid .295 average with four home runs, 44 RBI, 40 doubles, and 82 runs scored in 2021. 메이저사이트
Choi has struggled a bit in the Futures League this season, hitting just .253, but last year he led the Futures South League in batting average (.382), hits (124), slugging percentage (.509), and on-base percentage (.511).
KIA has been battling for the middle of the pack despite the departure of their top hitters and ups and downs in the lineup. They’ll need to hold on until June, when all the reinforcements they’ve been waiting for return.
If they don’t slip to the bottom of the standings, they could be in contention in late June when Na Sung-bum, Kim Do-young, and Choi Won-joon return.