Here are two seasoned players in SSG Landers who have just managed to survive the brink of retirement – left-handed pitcher Ko Hyo-joon, 39, and right-handed pitcher Roh Kyung-eun, 38, both of whom were removed from LG Twins and Lotte Giants, respectively, after the last season to be driven to the point of retiring from South Korean professional baseball. It was SSG Landers that gave them a second chance. Right after Roh joined the team last December, Ko made a contract this January. Contributing to SK Wyverns, a forerunner to SSG, from 2004 to 2016, Ko returned to his old team in six years.
SSG Landers hope the two veterans to fill in the gaps of some key players who are not available for now. As the saying goes, if the wind will not serve, take to the oars. As two main starting pitchers Park Jong-hoon, 31, and Moon Seung-won, 33, had to quit the last season to undergo elbow ligament restoration surgery last June, SSG failed to make it to the postseason. The team did little to reinforce its pitcher pool by scouting mid-level free agents, for example, before this season. As Park and Moon are expected to join the front-line crew this June, the two seasoned pitchers are supposed to do as best as they can until then.
This far, they seem fairly good. Presumably, Ko and Roh worked hard to polish their skills after all the twists and turns while they were out of the league. Roh’s fastball pitch at the speed of 147km/h drew attention in an entrance test. He is still able to reach the impressive speed in the spring camp. Likewise, Ko surpassed the highest pitch speed of 143km/h recorded in an entrance test to arrive at 147km/h in a recent live match. SSG manager Kim Won-hyung gave Ko a thumbs up, saying, “Ko Hyo-joon has the best pitching among left-handed relief pitchers of the team.”
Roh is ready to do a part in the opening lineup with some vacancies this season. Ko will serve as a long relief pitcher between the starting pitcher and the closing pitcher. As both the veterans have played a great part before in their positions, they are believed to be capable of defending SSG for half the season if they successfully show what they’ve got with no injury. “My team’s records during the first half of this year depend on how well I help it out instead of my teammates until they recover. I feel a sense of responsibility,” said Roh.
SSG may get a chance to land on the postseason for the first time, which it failed to snatch by a gap of 0.5 GB last year, only if Roh and Ko do their best to substitute for the injured players.
Bae-Jung Kim email@example.com