The Kia Tigers kept their postseason hopes alive, but suffered another injury blow.
The Tigers won 6-5 against the Lotte Giants in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on April 12 at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field. With the win, KIA, with 71 wins, two draws, and 68 losses, maintained a two-game lead over fifth-place Doosan.
However, the victory was not all smiles for Kia. Na Sung-bum, Choi Hyung-woo, Park Chan-ho, and Choi Won-joon were all injured and out of the lineup, while Choi Ji-min was also injured in the game. The Tigers have been suffering from a string of injuries to key players since mid-September, when the race for the top spot was tight.
First up is Na Sung-beom, who had been hot at the plate this season, batting 3-for-6 with 18 homers, 57 RBIs and a 1.098 OPS in 58 games (222-for-81), but suffered a hamstring injury in a game against the LG on September 19. He was diagnosed with a 10-12 week rehabilitation period and is out for the season.
Choi Hyung-woo, who filled in for Na this season by batting .887 with 17 homers, 81 RBIs and an OPS of .431 (130-for-431) in 121 games, was diagnosed with a fractured left collarbone after tripping over first baseman Park Byung-ho’s foot in a game against KT on March 24. His rehabilitation is expected to take about four months. He will be out for the rest of the season.
On top of that, the main shortstop, Park Chan-ho, has also been hit by an unfortunate injury.먹튀검증 Park Chan-ho, who was batting .452 (136 for 136) with three home runs, 52 RBIs, 73 runs scored, 30 stolen bases and a .734 OPS in 130 games this season, suffered a comminuted fracture of his left ulna when he was hit in the left forearm by a 138-kilometer-per-hour fastball from KT starting pitcher Lee Sun-woo on May 5. The recovery period is 12 weeks and he is out for the season.
Choi Won-jun, who was selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games, suffered a left calf fascia and muscle micro-injury when he was hit by a pitch during team training. He did not play a single game at the Asian Games and was diagnosed with a rehabilitation time of up to eight weeks. Choi was released by the Commerce in June and batted 25-for-51 (239 at-bats) with one home run, 23 RBI and a .672 OPS in 67 games this season.
Choi Ji-min, who was the last pitcher to make the Asian Games team alongside Choi Won-jun, was also injured when he was hit in the left ankle by a pitch from Jeon Jun-woo against Lotte on April 12. After lying on the mound, Choi was unable to get up and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He was diagnosed with a bruise and is unlikely to pitch against Doosan on the 13th.
Choi has been a key part of KIA’s bullpen this season, posting a 6-3 record with 12 saves and a 2.12 ERA in 58 games (59 1/3 innings). It was his first start since returning from the Asian Games, but he suffered an injury shortly afterward.
KIA’s hopes of reaching the postseason have been dashed by a number of injuries to key players. This is especially unfortunate given the tight race for the top spot.
But they’re not giving up just yet. Even though they’ve been hit hard, they still have a realistic shot at making the postseason. KIA has games against Doosan on the 13th and NC on the 16th and 17th. There is a case to be made for KIA if they can catch both 4th place NC (73 wins, 2 draws, 65 losses) and 5th place Doosan (72 wins, 2 draws, 65 losses).
In that case, KIA would finish the season with 74 wins, two draws, and 68 losses. If Doosan wins two out of four games, excluding the KIA game, they will tie for first place, and if they lose one or fewer games, KIA will win the title. NC will tie with one win and one loss in two games, excluding the KIA game, and KIA will win the title with two losses.
However, if KIA loses against Doosan with three games left, their tiebreaker number will quickly drop to one and they will have to take both games of the NC to see how the other teams fare. Can KIA overcome their injury woes and pull off a postseason miracle?