Doosan Bears catcher Yang Ji Hyun hasn’t been feeling well lately. It’s even more concerning because he’s been getting substituted at the end of games. Doosan fans are also the “Willie Bears,” so they are even more worried. “Take my back, take my back” is a common chant among Doosan fans.안전놀이터
Yang has been one of the best hitters on the team this season, batting .321 with 72 hits, 7 home runs, and 36 RBIs in 68 games. Yang’s success has come under the difficult conditions of batting center field while wearing a catcher’s mask.
However, the Doosan bench will also need to be mindful of his fitness and injury prevention, given his age (he was born in 1987). This is especially true since Yang has been complaining of back pain recently.
On June 30 against the Lotte Giants in Ulsan, Yang was replaced by Jang Seung-hyun in the bottom of the ninth inning after playing a run in the offense. Back discomfort was the reason for the substitution. In the end, Doosan went to extra innings and lost the game on a walk-off hit.
Even during the game, Yang was already feeling back pain. Although he played until the ninth inning because he had a lot of responsibility, he was forced to retire to the bench.
Doosan head coach Lee Seung-yeop spoke to reporters ahead of the July 1 game against Ulsan Lotte and said, “Yesterday, Yang-ji’s back was not good from the middle of the game. At the end of the game, I told her that it was going to be difficult, so I took her off the bench. It was an unavoidable choice because it could affect his participation in today’s game.” “I think Yang-ji is the driving force behind the pitching staff’s success this season, so I want him to wear the catcher’s mask as much as possible.”
Yang also wore the starting catcher’s mask in the first game of the day, feeling a great sense of responsibility under the task of ending the losing streak. He partnered with starter Kwak Bin for six scoreless innings. At the plate, Yang went 3-for-4 and scored the game’s first and final run with a single in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the ninth, with runners on second and third, he drove in Chung to seal the game. The victory was made possible by Yang Ji, who wore a catcher’s mask.
Kwak Bin, who earned his seventh win of the season, said, “I’m really grateful to be able to share the battery with (Yang) Ji-won. It’s a great honor to play with the best catcher in Korea. And even though he has a bad back, he still wore the catcher’s mask for the team today. I hope my teammates and I can emulate his dedication,” he said, giving a thumbs-up.
Yang also basked in the joy of escaping the losing streak. When he got the final out in the bottom of the ninth inning, he showed his emotions with a fist-pumping ceremony with Jung Chul-won.
Yang said after the game, “It was a tight pitcher’s duel for the second day in a row, so I was only thinking about how to focus and end the losing streak. I’m glad I was able to help break the losing streak with three runs,” he smiled.
“I know the Doosan fans are worried about my back,” Yang said, “but they’ve been really good about taking care of it. The team takes great care of it in training, so I can focus on my game. I think the only way I can repay their support and worry is to play as many games as possible and help the team win,” he said.
With the 2-1 win, Doosan snapped a two-game losing streak and remained in sixth place in the league with 34 wins, one draw and 36 losses on the season. Doosan sits between the third-place NC Dinos (2.5 games back) and the ninth-place KIA Tigers (2.5 games back). Their performance in the remaining 10 games of the first half of the season will determine where they finish.
“We have 10 games left in the first half, and we will do our best to accumulate as many wins as possible,” Yang said encouragingly. More importantly, Yang’s back condition will have a major impact on Doosan’s performance in the second half. It will be interesting to see if Yang can finish the first half healthy and head to the All-Star Game at Sajik Stadium.