“My eyes are white right now, so I’ll think about it in a bit.”
Following the news of ace Ahn Woo-jin’s elbow ligament splicing, Kiwoom Heroes head coach Hong Won-ki jokingly conveyed his sincerity when asked about his future plans for the starting lineup.
Last year, Ahn stood out as one of the best right-handed fastball starters in the league, and this season, he has been the ace of the Kiwoom mound.
Despite throwing so many innings and taking care of his body thoroughly, his body detected abnormal signals in the second half of the season, and he was diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament during a one-day hospital checkup.
Just a month ago, four hospitals said there was nothing wrong, but his elbow, which has been throwing fastballs approaching 160 kilometers per hour, couldn’t hold up.
“I was hoping that it was just blood accumulation, but the results of the examination came back like this,” Hong said ahead of the KT WIZ game at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on February 2.
“Even the strongest pitchers need rest and rehabilitation after playing so many innings. I’m sorry and sad that I didn’t have that time,” he added.
This season, Kiwoom took Ahn off the first team roster twice, once in the first half and once in the second half, to give him time to rest.
He had been meticulously managing his physical condition since spring training, starting later than other players, but eventually broke down.
Kiwoom had the misfortune of losing their core beast, Lee Jung-hoo, and then their irreplaceable ace, Ahn Woo-jin, to the operating table.
Hong said, “Injuries can be prevented, but they are difficult to control. It’s a primer that can burst at any moment,” Hong said, reflecting on the season’s bad luck.
Ahn Woo-jin came to the baseball field earlier in the day to say hello to Hong and the team before heading home.
“He actually said, ‘Nowadays, people have elbow surgery at a much younger age than me. He consoled me by saying, ‘I will come back after rehabilitation in good health,’ and I hope to see him again in good health,” Hong said.
The rehabilitation period for players who have had their elbow ligaments surgically laminated is usually one to one-and-a-half years.
Ahn hasn’t completed his military service yet, so there’s a good chance he’ll be back in time to complete his service.
In that case, Ahn’s return to the Kiwoom won’t be until late 2025 at the earliest.먹튀검증
A first-round pick in 2018, Ahn went 15-8 with a 2.11 ERA in 30 games, 196 innings pitched, and 224 strikeouts last year, earning him his first Pitching Golden Glove.
This year, he continued his ace-like pitching with a 9-7 record, 150⅔ innings pitched, 164 strikeouts, and a 2.39 ERA in 24 games.