“I was chased and intimidated”: How a pitcher gained strength to return to 165 wins after an unfamiliar slump.

I healed with my family and learned from my juniors in rehabilitation”.

KIA Tigers Yang Hyeon-jong (35)메이저놀이터 returned with a strong appearance. He started in the game against the Hanwha Eagles held at the Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on the 26th and threw 91 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts and 2 runs. He led the team to a 12-4 victory and embraced the winning pitcher. It was his 6th win of the season and his 165th career win. 

This is the victory achieved 51 days after the SSG victory on July 6th. In particular, the quality start is only 63 days after the KT match on June 24th. With this victory, he set a tie record with legend Song Jin-woo for the most starting wins of all time with 163 wins. He is a new record holder by adding one starter win in the future. Above all, he gave confidence that he would play an active role as an ace in the starting lineup in the future with a good pitch that cleanly washed away the recent sluggishness.

He gave up only one hit in the first and second innings and held them scoreless. Episode 3 was the only crisis. He got a heavy hit from lead batter Lee Jin-young and allowed a timely double to pass the key to center fielder to rookie Moon Hyun-bin following a send-off bunt. After the second death, Noh Si-hwan, who was aiming for a 30th home run, was hit again and allowed a 0-2 lead. 

However, in the 4th inning, he blocked it with a tripartite offense, and in the 5th inning, he only gave up 1 hit and deleted 3 outcounts. In the sixth inning, he allowed only one walk and also finished the mound following Young’s streak. He threw a mix of changeup (21 pitches), slider (12 pitches) and curveball (8 pitches) centered on a fastball (50 pitches) with a maximum speed of 146 km and an average of 142 km. He has definitely improved his fastball power. He overcame the bat, and the drop and trajectory of his breaking ball was also sharp. 

Hitters warmly welcomed Ace’s return. He gave up 12 runs on a long 18 hits. After chasing one point in the third inning, Choi Won-joon and Park Chan-ho scored two RBIs and timely hits in the fourth inning, and they scored five runs and welcomed the return of the ace. In the 7th inning, 9 batters concentrated on 6 hits and 1 walk, giving them another 5 points and securing victory. 

After the game, Yang Hyeon-jong said, “I tried not to damage the team because the atmosphere was good. I lost a run in the beginning, but I tried to prevent it with a minimum run. The hitters scored a lot and I won happily. I also threw the breaking ball aggressively,” he said, expressing his feeling of victory. 

Yang Hyeon-jong was sluggish with 7 runs in 5⅔ innings in the previous match against Kiwoom on the 15th. Prior to that, in the Gwangju game against LG, he was greatly shaken with 8 runs in 2 innings. It became a no game in the rain and the record was deleted, but a series of mass losses raised concerns. In early May, similarly, they lost a lot of runs in two consecutive games. Everyone, from Yang Hyeon-jong to director Kim Jong-guk, all had worried faces. 

After two sudden massive losses, I had no choice but to shrink psychologically. So, the 10-day period was a time to heal the mind and regain mental health, so the 2-3 days were spent healing with his family without doing anything. Then, at the Hampyeong Training Center, I got a lot of energy while working with the rehabilitation players. 

Yang Hyeon-jong said, “Since I didn’t get results for about 2-3 games, I thought I was being chased a lot. I spent a good time with and did it with a new mindset. While resting, I watched good videos in the past and prepared while thinking a lot about the feeling and atmosphere when I felt good.”

In particular, he revealed that there was a lot of realization in the rehabilitation group. “When I saw the rehab athletes working out, I felt strange on the one hand. Seeing them immersed in rehab and working hard for a long time, I thought I would show a better image. I had a lot of time,” he explained. 

Lastly, I thanked the trainer in the rehabilitation group. “The training part in the rehabilitation group took good care of me. Trainers Kim Jun-jae and Cho Jae-young have always seen me since I was a rookie, so they know my body better than anyone else. He gave me good words about my shortcomings, so I received strength.

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