“I healed with my family and learned from my rehab teammates”.
Kia Tigers’ Yang Hyun-jong (35) is back in solid form. On June 26, he started against the Hanwha Eagles at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field and threw 91 pitches over six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He earned the win in the team’s 12-4 victory. It was his sixth win of the season and 165th career victory.
It came 51 days after their last win over SSG on July 6. In particular, it was the first quality start in 63 days since June 24 against KT. With this win, he tied the all-time record for most starts with legendary Song Jin-woo with 163. He is now the record holder with one more start. Most importantly, the win was a clean sweep of his recent slump, giving him the confidence to serve as an ace in the starting lineup in the future.
The first and second innings were scoreless, with only one hit allowed. The third inning was his only threat. He gave up a leadoff single to Lee Jin-young, followed by a walk, and then gave up an RBI double to Moon Hyun-bin over the center field fence. Two batters later, he gave up another single up the middle to Noh Si-hwan, who is chasing his 30th home run.
But he struck out the side in the fourth and gave up just one hit in the fifth, striking out three. In the sixth, he allowed just one hit and struck out the side to end Young’s streak. He topped out at 146 mph and averaged 142 mph with his fastball (50 pitches), mixing in a changeup (21 pitches), slider (12 pitches), and curve (8 pitches). His fastball definitely improved. It beat the bat, and the drop and trajectory of the changeup was sharp.
The hitters welcomed the return of the ace with open arms. They pounded out 18 hits and scored 12 runs. After trailing by a run in the third inning, they exploded for five runs in the fourth inning, including two RBI singles by Choi Won-jun and Park Chan-ho. In the seventh inning, nine batters combined for six hits and one walk to secure another five-run victory.
After the game, Yang Hyun-jong said, “We had a good team atmosphere and tried not to cause any damage. We gave up an early run, but we tried to keep it to a minimum. The batters scored a lot of runs, so I was happy to win. I didn’t think too much about it, just thought it was one game and threw my fastball and changeup aggressively,” he said.
Yang had previously struggled against Kiwoom on the 15th, giving up seven runs in 5⅔ innings. Prior to that, he was shaky in Gwangju against LG, giving up eight runs in two innings. The game was rained out and the record was erased, but the back-to-back losses were concerning. In early May, they similarly gave up a lot of runs in two consecutive games. Everyone from Yang Hyun-jong to manager Kim Jong-kook looked worried.
We had to be psychologically shaken by the two sudden losses, so the ten-day period was a time to heal and regain our minds. We spent two or three days doing nothing and spending time with our families. He then joined the rehabilitation team at the Hampyeong Training Center, where he gained a lot of energy.
“When I didn’t perform well for about two or three games, I felt like I was chasing myself a lot. I could see that I was getting a little discouraged. The manager and coach told me to take it easy. I spent two or three days at home with my family and refreshed my mind. While I was resting, I watched some of my favorite videos from the past and thought a lot about the feeling and atmosphere I had when I was doing well.”
He said he learned a lot from the rehabilitation group in particular. “When I saw the rehabilitation players exercising, I had a strange feeling in my heart. When I saw how they were working hard and immersing themselves in rehabilitation for a long time, I thought I would do better. I taught the juniors a lot of what I know and had a lot of healing time while talking to them,” he explained.안전놀이터
Finally, he thanked the trainers in the rehabilitation group. “The training part of the rehabilitation group took good care of me. Trainers Kim Jun-jae and Cho Jae-young have always seen me since I was a rookie, so they know my body better than anyone else. They gave me good advice on my weaknesses and gave me strength,” he said.