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Jo Sung-min’s Pitching Comeback Gains Momentum

Posted August. 09, 2005 03:07,   


“I decided to endure, though I badly want to come back as soon as possible.

I feel relaxed at the thought that I have already hit rock bottom. So I feel the effort I made throughout the summer is all the more precious,” said Jo Sung-min (32. Hanwha Eagles).

Jo received a passing grade for his pitching in his two games back recently after returning to the Korean League in May. Jo returned to the Korean league three years after retiring from the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese League in October 2002. In a match against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Stadium on August 5, Jo got all three batters he faced out in quick order in 1 inning and made another brilliant pitching appearance with three strikeouts, no hits, and one four-ball against five hitters in 1 1/3 innings on August 7.

Those pitching outings were enough to give Jo confidence to some degree, but Jo still said, “I still have a long way to go. I feel more cautious because it took me shorter to pitch well than I thought.”

Jo first started his training by walking from side to side in the outfield after joining Hanwha. Jo then began catching balls in the mid-June, and pitched simulation games against hitters starting last month. Jo gained a satisfactory result for him and coaching staff in a short period of time by going through an arduous 14-hour-a-day training regimen.

Coach Choi Dong-won of Hanwha, who is in a full charge of training Jo, praised Jo, saying, “Though it was not easy for Jo to transform himself from an ordinary person into a player, Jo won a fight against him.” Choi added that “Jo still has a lot to improve.”

Manager Kim In-sik noted, “Jo has to increase his pitch counts from 25 to 50 in a real game, and even with those pitches, he shouldn’t feel pain,” and Kim showed his expectations for Jo at the same time, adding, “There is no need to hurry, but Jo will be of great help if he promptly joins the team in the first league.”

After playing in a few more games in the second group, Jo is expected to play as a set-up man or a reliever in the first group that he dreamed of late in the season or in the playoffs.

Jo, who might be waiting for a cool weather, stated that “I will supplement my ability to cope with various kinds of situations, including a set position, while working harder to build stronger health.”

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com