Giants pitcher claims to be injury-free

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Giants pitcher claims to be injury-free

Lotte Giants pitcher Cho Jung-hoon’s inconsistencies on the mound are leading to speculation that he is injured.

Coming off a season in which he was tied for the most wins, Cho has been struggling. In his latest outing, Cho pitched four and two-thirds of an inning and gave up four runs on six hits to earn a loss in the game against the LG Twins on June 2 in Busan. In his previous outing on May 27, Cho was shelled for five runs in two innings against the Doosan Bears.

Cho’s latest struggle is in stark contrast to his performance earlier in the year. The 25-year-old won all three of his starts at the top of the current season. More impressive was Cho’s commanding presence on the mound. During the three-game stretch, Cho gave up six hits in 20 innings pitched and averaged 12.7 pitches per inning.

However, Cho seems to have lost confidence in his forkball of late, and as he strays away from his go-to pitch, his total pitch count has also risen. In a June 2 game, Cho threw 12 forkballs out of 99 pitches. Usually 30 to 40 percent of his pitches are forkballs.

This has led to speculation about an injury. Since entering the KBO in 2005, Cho logged 138 innings during his first four seasons. But last season, his first as a starter, Cho pitched a whopping 182 and one-third innings. Cho began suffering from pain in his throwing shoulder midway through last season.

After his June 2 outing, Cho told the media that he “didn’t have any problems” with his shoulder.

According to team officials, Cho is suffering from a slight pain in his throwing elbow but the pitcher has been declared free of injuries. “We sent X-rays of Cho’s elbow to a clinic in Los Angeles and he was cleared to play,” said Giants trainer Lee Jin-oh. “It’s nothing big, and he shouldn’t experience any problems for the next three years.”


By Choi Min-kyu [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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