Why did Doosan’s Lee Byung-heon, 20, delay surgery on his ankle after the end of the 2023 season and head to the national team?
“He had a bone chip in his ankle, so we tried to have him have surgery quickly, but we couldn’t,” said a Doosan official at Jamsil Stadium. What’s the story?토토사이트
Lee Byung-heon, a top-notch left-hander at Seoul High School, was the first pick of Doosan in the 2022 rookie draft. He was rehabbing from a bone chip surgery on his elbow in July, followed by medial collateral ligament surgery in August, but his top-ranked fastball of up to 151 mph and potential for improvement helped him realize his professional dream.
After a long rehabilitation, Lee made his debut in the first team on September 3, 2022, and got a taste of the pros with a 3.60 ERA in nine games, and at the Australian spring training the following year, manager Lee Seung-yeop said, “I feel like Koo Dae-sung when he was active. He’s the type of pitcher you don’t want to face as a hitter because of his deception,” which raised expectations for his sophomore season. Instructor Hisanori Takahashi, who coached Doosan pitchers for two weeks in Australia, also recognized Lee’s potential.
Lee started his sophomore season with a bang, but only managed a 4.67 ERA in 27 innings over 36 games with five holds. Due to his frequent ups and downs, he was often assigned to chasing and losing groups rather than winning groups, and he had to travel back and forth between Jamsil and Icheon frequently to reduce the ups and downs. The number of days registered in the first team (105) and the number of days expunged (95) were virtually the same.
Lee Byung-heon was the only member of Doosan’s roster for the 30th Asian Baseball Championship to be named by head coach Lee Jung-myung on March 13. Luckily, it was determined that he did not need immediate surgery on his ankle, where a bone fragment was found, and he decided to head to Taiwan to gain international experience. The team will compete in Taipei and Taichung, Taiwan, from December 3 to 10 in an attempt to regain the top spot after eight years since 2015.
A Doosan official said, “We found a piece of bone in Lee Byung-heon’s ankle and tried to have him have surgery quickly, but we postponed it because we had to go to Taiwan. We decided not to operate this year, but to go to Taiwan to gain experience and work hard until next season. Due to the team’s situation, we have no choice but to put our expectations on Lee Byung-heon.”
The “team situation” the official is referring to is Doosan’s lefty famine. While the starting lineup, which includes foreign pitcher Brandon Waddell, APBC (Asian Professional Baseball Championship) veteran Choi Seung-yong, and last year’s second-round pick Lee Won-jae, is not too worrisome, the bullpen does not have a left-hander who can reliably catch left-handed batters in game situations. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this season, except for swingman Choi Seung-yong, the bullpen was practically without a left-handed pitcher.
Of course, there are teams like KT, which advanced to the Korean Series this year, that operate their bullpen without a left-hander, but Lee Seung-yup, a left-handed hitter himself, said, “I had a hard time when a tricky left-hander came out in clutch situations during my active career. We need a left-hander who can stop strong left-handed hitters when there are runners on base.”
Lee chose three candidates for the left-handed bullpen during the final camp in Icheon. Like last year, Lee Byung-heon and Kim Ho-joon were on the list, and newcomer Baek Seung-woo, who was drafted by Doosan in the seventh round (69th overall) of the 2023 KBO Draft and posted a zero ERA in six games in his first year.
Lee said, “(Lee) had a head shot this year and a three-run home run against Choi Hyung-woo in the dugout. He went back and forth between the first and second teams often, so there will be more memories of failure.” “Baseball players can feel more when they have bad days. I hope Lee Byung-heon will become our main player next year. I’m looking forward to it,” putting Lee at the forefront of the competition.
Doosan has already established a project to develop a left-handed bullpen through internal development. As part of the plan, the team has selected two more left-handed pitchers this year, Park Ji-ho (Jangango-Dongang University) and Kim Moo-bin (Shin Il-Go), after Baek Seung-woo last year, and is pinning its hopes on 2019 second-third rounder Lee Kyo-hoon, who is on the verge of transferring. If the left-handed prospects, led by Lee Byung-hun, develop quickly, they could add to the bullpen’s diversity.
A Doosan official said, “Our left-handed power seems to be weak, but we have consistently selected left-handed pitchers in the recent rookie draft, and Lee Kyo-hoon is also in the military. If we develop them step by step, they will have good power.”