Injured Koreans back on base

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Injured Koreans back on base

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Korea’s big leaguers are recovering from their injuries and getting ready to step back into the limelight.

Kang Jung-ho of the Pittsburgh Pirates had his first home run in the rehab games he’s been playing in the minors. He is in the final stages of recuperation from his knee injury, playing for the Pirates’ minors team the Indianapolis Indians. He played a game against the Tampa Bay Rays’ minors team Durham Bulls as third batter and third baseman on Wednesday. He’s aggregated two hits during his five at-bats including one homer, three runs batted in (RBI) and one run-scored.

In the first inning against Bulls’ pitcher Adam Wilk, Kang singled on a line drive to the left and got to first base. His first RBI came in the top of the fifth when he grounded a hit to bring home Gift Ngoepe from third base. Kang’s dinger came in the top of the ninth when he went into the plate with one out and one runner on base to knock one over the left fence off the Bulls’ closer Kyle McPherson. Kang’s home run added hope to the possibility of his return by May.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin also began pitching again. Ryu had a bullpen session, throwing about 30 pitches on Wednesday at Dodgers Stadium, including fastballs, curveballs and various forms of changeups. Ryu threw his second live pitching session on April 12 and his return seemed to be imminent as he was about to go into the final stage of the rehab process, which is to throw a live game in a minors game. However, due to groin muscle sprain, he had to stop the rehab temporarily before going back to the mound for a practice pitching session on Wednesday.

Although the pulled muscle worried the Dodgers’ coaching staff, it seems Ryu is back on track for the rehabilitation. “He threw all kinds of balls and ball speed looked good,” said Dave Roberts, the Dodgers manager, after the bullpen session. “Ryu will throw another bullpen session either on April 30 or May 1,” Roberts added.

At this pace, it shouldn’t be long before the timetable for his return is finalized. He will go to the majors after pitching in a couple of minors games.

Texas Rangers slugger Choo Shin-soo has also stepped up his recovery effort. He suffered from a calf injury on April 10 and was placed in the disabled list.

Choo was expected to be out for four to six weeks. However, he seems to be recovering from the injury ahead of the schedule when he was first spotted throwing on April 21. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Choo hopes to be back in the lineup in a few weeks after playing several games for Double-A Frisco RoughRiders, the minor league team of the Rangers.

“I’m thinking I’d want to go to the minor leagues for a couple of games,” said Choo to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I don’t want to test it up here.”

With the return of the three Major League Baseball stars’ fast approaching, it will not be long until Korean fans can watch all eight Korean big leaguers in action.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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