Kia breathes a sigh of relief over ‘Kim Do-Young simple bruise’, super rookie becomes indispensable in one year

The KIA Tigers breathed a sigh of relief following the news that starting third baseman Kim Do-young (20) suffered a “simple bruise.

KIA announced its starting lineup for the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League regular season away game on June 26 at Changwon NC Park in Gyeongnam, South Korea.

Choi Won-jun (first base), Kim Do-young (third base), Na Sung-beom (right field), Choi Hyung-woo (left field), Socrates Brito (center field), Kim Sun-bin (second base), Ko Jong-wook (designated hitter), Kim Tae-gun (catcher), and Park Chan-ho (shortstop), with Mario Sanchez on the mound.

Against KIA, NC’s lineup is Son Ah-seop (right fielder), Park Min-woo (second baseman), Park Gun-woo (designated hitter), Jason Martin (center fielder), Kwon Hee-dong (left fielder), Do Tae-hoon (third baseman), Yoon Hyung-joon (first baseman), Park Se-hyuk (catcher), and Kim Joo-won (shortstop). The starter was Song Myung-ki.

The most notable change in the lineup was the return of Kim Do-young to the starting lineup after being sidelined with a dizzying injury the day before (25th). On the 25th against the Changwon NC, Kim faced NC closer Lee Yong-chan with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth inning with KIA trailing 3-5. Kim doggedly fought off the 0B2S pitch, and by the time he reached the eighth pitch of the at-bat, the game was over. Kim picked up a 132-kilometer-per-hour forked ball that was falling toward him, and it hit Kim’s left foot and was fouled. Immediately after the hit, Kim wrapped his foot and rolled around in pain, eventually walking off the field on his own. Byun Woo-hyuk came in to pinch-hit and struck out swinging, ending the game with a 3-5 loss for KIA, but all eyes were on Kim Do-young.

Fans were understandably worried, given his injury history, as he is only in his second year as a professional. After graduating from Gwangju Daeseongcho, Gwangju Dongseongjung, and Gwangju Dongseong High, Kim turned down strong offers from the Major Leagues in favor of the KBO and joined KIA with the first pick in the 2022 rookie draft. He was a five-tool prospect who came out of the Gwangju area with quick feet that earned him the nickname Lee Jong-bum, blistering bat speed and torso rotation that allowed him to reach speeds of up to 170 kilometers per hour, excellent contact and long balls, and strong shoulders.

However, the highly anticipated super rookie struggled with unexpected injuries. Last year, he entered the regular season unable to train properly due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) during spring training and suffered a severe slump in the month of April. In the second half of the season, he gradually adjusted to the first team, and this year, he trained normally during spring training in the United States, raising even higher expectations internally.

After hitting .295 with an OPS of 0.831 in exhibition games and earning the starting third base job, he suffered a fractured left metatarsal in the opening series against the SSG Landers on April 2. He was expected to be out for the first half of the season, but along with Na Sung-bum (34), he stayed away from anything unhealthy and focused on rehabilitation, and was able to return to the first team faster than expected on May 23. After her return, Kim shook her head as she told Star News, “It was really hard, and I felt like I shouldn’t get really injured in the future.”

Knowing the process, KIA was nervous about the outcome of the diagnosis, but fortunately, it ended up being a small setback for the super rookie as he returned to the starting lineup, proving that he has grown into an indispensable player in just one year. A KIA official said, “The results came out last night. After the injury, he headed to the hospital and was examined and found to be a simple bruise.”

If Kim Do-young had suffered another long-term injury, it would have been a dizzying situation for KIA, which also traded away Ryu Ji-hyuk (29-Samsung Lions). That’s because since returning on June 23, Kim has been putting up league-leading numbers with a .309 batting average, two home runs, seven RBIs, 10 runs scored, six doubles, a .342 on-base percentage, a .500 slugging percentage, and a .842 OPS, which ranks second on the team and 17th in the league behind Na Sung-bum in terms of OPS over the same period. He’s also a table-setter, tied for first in stolen bases with Kim Hye-seong (24-Keum Heroes) since his return.안전놀이터

Choi Hyung-woo (40), who has been backing up Kim Do-young to take some of the pressure off the younger player, was also happy to show off. At the All-Star Game, Choi Hyung-woo said, “Until last year, (Kim) Do-young felt like a backup. If he continues to play like he is now, he is more than just helpful, he is the main player of our team. He’s a superstar, not a backup,” he said.

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