Translator/Writer: Simon Kim
Korean link (Naver, SportsWorld):
Eyes have been on Hanhwa Eagles southpaw Yoo Chang-sik at the team’s 2014 Spring Camp in Okinawa.
People have been expecting Yoo to step up and replace Ryu Hyun-jin as Hanhwa’s ace. Powerful lefty Ryu Hyun-jin left for the LA Dodgers in the Major Leagues last year leaving a void at his position. Earning a W700,000,000 contract fee in 2011 (W64,00,000 yearly salary) (convert at www.xe.com to your currency!), Yoo was actually drafted because of his closeness to Ryu.
But Yoo has had a history of shining in Spring Camps and under performing when the regular season rolled along. Ryu’s loss was a big loss for the Eagles, but Yoo was expected to perform well and lessen the negative impact.
And with that, Yoo became a focus for Hanhwa watchers in off season training last season. Yoo pitched in his first practice game of the year February 25 in Okinawa against the Nexen Heroes and reached speeds of 147kph with his fastball (Google conversions). He pitched 2 innings giving up 2 hits and walking none. He also struck out 2 and gave up an earned run. Yoo’s performance was generally considered good as his sharp change-up also caught people’s eyes.
Yoo had been sick with the flu during the Okinawa camps delaying his first appearance. He was reported to have missed 10 days of practice this month and appeared on the mound in his best condition since training started. Hanhwa manager Kim Eung-yong was reported to be very mad about it.
But there has been a lot of expectations placed on Yoo. Hanhwa’s pitching staff are worried that this will be another case of Yoo dazzling in the spring with nothing to show for it when the season begins. It had been the pattern every season so far.
This year, however, focus is on Yoo’s condition rather than simply on him. With Hanhwa’s two foreign pitchers (Andrew Albers, Caleb Clay), lefty Song Chang-hyun, and Ahn Young-myung (recently discharged from military service) all competing for spots in the rotation, Yoo is planning to not over do it this spring and prepare for Opening Day at a healthy pace.
Original Writer - Bae Jin-hwan