After finishing second in the regular season, KT Wiz was leisurely preparing for fall baseball when an emergency struck. Kang Baek-ho, a key part of the team’s offense, has been injured and will not be able to participate in the postseason, including the playoffs.
Kang Baek-ho started as the No. 5 designated hitter against the team’s own Blue-Black Game at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on the 26th. Ahead of the playoffs against the NC Dinos, KT was using the game to get a feel for the game.
However, something went wrong for Kang Baek-ho in his first at-bat. Facing Wes Benjamin, Kang felt unwell after his swing and was immediately substituted and taken to the hospital.
Both the club and the player hoped it wasn’t a serious injury, but their fears were realized. “During the Blue-Black game, Kang Baek-ho felt pain in his right side and underwent an MRI examination at a hospital near the stadium, and was diagnosed with a right adductor muscle injury,” a KT team official explained.
In the regular season, the timing of his return could be adjusted as he recovers, but with a short-term battle ahead, it’s unlikely he’ll make the playoff roster. Even if the team wins the playoffs and advances to the Korean Series, there’s a good chance he won’t see the field. A key player in the batting order who was looking forward to fall baseball has been declared out for the season.
Now in his sixth year as a professional, Kang is one of the best hitters in the league and on his team, but he’s had a tougher year than ever this year.
After batting .280 with 26 hits in 93 at-bats in April, including four home runs and 13 RBIs, he struggled from mid-May onward. His body wasn’t 100%, and his mind and body didn’t cooperate, and he ended the regular season without playing 100 games for the second straight year (71). His days in the second team became longer, and players and fans alike waited for him to get back on track.
It wasn’t until September that Kang Baek-ho began to show signs of improvement. After coming in as a pinch-hitter and hitting a grand slam in a home game against SSG Landers on March 8, he gradually picked up his hitting game and went on a six-game hitting streak starting against Samsung Lions on March 14 before heading to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. For a team that was in the thick of the race for second place as the regular season came to a close, Kang’s rebound was a huge boost.
Baekho Kang has also made his mark on the international scene. Earlier this month, he was named to the Korean National Baseball Team for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, where he hit well and spearheaded the offense throughout the tournament. The team returned home with a gold medal, a far cry from the attitude controversies at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (to be held in 2021) and the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).
After winning the gold medal at the Asian Games, Kang shared his overwhelming emotions, saying, “I always feel sorry for myself in international competitions, but not this time.”
After returning from the Asian Games, Kang played the final game of the regular season against the Doosan Bears on April 10. Although he went hitless in five at-bats, he made his presence known and prepared for fall baseball. However, due to an unexpected injury, he did not get a single at-bat in the postseason and will finish the 2023 season. 토스카지노
It’s a big blow for KT. KT’s plans to prepare for the fall baseball season with a “complete team” will be disrupted. There’s a difference between having Kang and not having him in the middle of the lineup. This is something KT has experienced over the course of the season.
The team’s hopes had been raised with the return of Kang Baek-ho to the lineup after his stellar performance at the Asian Games. It remains to be seen how KT can minimize the void left by Kang’s injury.