Player focus: Im Tae-hoon (Doosan Bears)

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Player focus: Im Tae-hoon (Doosan Bears)

On Thursday, fans were surprised when the Doosan Bears placed Im Tae-hoon on the “voluntary retirement list” at his request.

This means the 26-year-old right-hander can’t play professional baseball in Korea, the United States, Japan or Taiwan - for a year. Even if he wants to come back to the league after a year, the Bears would first need to release him from the list.

The Bears say Im wanted to take a break from baseball, hinting that his decision amounts to a de facto retirement announcement.

Im was the 2007 KBO Rookie of the Year, going 7-3 with one save, 20 holds and a 2.40 ERA. He also was the core bullpen pitcher for the Bears, amassing 33 wins and 24 losses with 12 saves and 48 holds from 2007 to 2010. During that time, he also won a gold medal in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and silver medal in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

But his career deteriorated since 2011, after a scandal involving a female anchor who later committed suicide. For the past four years, he collected six wins and six losses, with seven saves and four holds.

The Seoul native hadn’t appeared in any KBO League games this season.

Im, once the KBO’s top prospect, is likely to end his career with a record of 39-30, 52 holds and 19 saves, with a 4.00 ERA in 271 games.

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