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Protective gear for pitcher may be introduced to KBO

Posted May. 29, 2020 07:33,   

Updated May. 29, 2020 07:33


Lee Seung-heon, a professional pitcher of the Lotte Giants, was released from a hospital after a head injury from a hard-hit ball during a match with the Hanwha Eagles on May 17. “Lee Seung-heon was discharged from a hospital on Tuesday. He does not require surgery and will take a month off before joining the team again,” said the Lotte Giants.

Possible changes in protective gear to be worn by Lee later on the mound are drawing attention. The Lotte Giants ordered protective gear for pitchers from the U.S. since Lee’s injury, U.S.-based sports media ESPN reported. The specially-designed hat with carbon fills inside can protect a pitcher’s head from batted balls. According to ESPN, this is the first time that the KBO League ordered such protective gear for pitchers from the U.S. “We are testing a number of samples received from various brands,” said a member of the Lotte Giants. “It is unclear where pitchers will wear them – it is up to their decisions.”

It has become a norm that batters wear a helmet to protect their head from pitches. However, there is hardly any case of pitchers using gear to be protected from batted balls in professional baseball of South Korea. Kim Won-hyeong, Kim Kwang-sam, and Kim Myeong-shin suffered injuries on the face, head, etc. from a batted ball in 1999, 2016, and 2017, respectively, but all of them opted to wear a regular hat after recovering from the injuries.

In Major League Baseball, Ryu Hyun-jin’s teammate Matt Shoemaker and Kim Kwang-hyun’s teammate Daniel Ponce de Leon wear a protective hat. It remains to be seen whether Lee Seung-heon can overcome trauma from his injury with protective gear and show even better performance than before.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com