Heroes’ manager tries to meet expectations as KBO club gets younger

Kiwoom Heroes starter Lee Jong-min pitches against the Kia Tigers during the clubs' Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, April 25. Yonhap

As his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club has decided to go young this season, Kiwoom Heroes manager Hong Won-ki has been trying to manage his expectations.Two years removed from an appearance in the Korean Series, the Heroes are deep into a rebuild. Teenagers or those in their early 20s have been getting a bulk of playing time this year, and the Heroes have overachieved so far with a record of 15-19, good for seventh place in the 10-team league.In the rotation, the 22-year-old left-hander Lee Jong-min will make his third start of the season Tuesday evening against the Doosan Bears. Right-hander Kim In-beom, who only had three KBO games under his belt before this year, has already made eight appearances in 2024, including three starts.In his pregame media scrum Tuesday, Hong said he wants his young hurlers to take things slowly.

“Pitchers like Lee Jong-min and Kim In-beom don’t have a ton of experience, and they are not overpowering by any means,” Hong said at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. “So when they take the mound, I don’t necessarily look at how many innings they can eat up. I want them to take it one inning and one batter at a time, and do the best they can while they’re on the mound.”Hong said he already began bracing for an up-and-down season during spring training, knowing the inexperienced group of players on hand, but injuries have been getting in the way.”Injuries have been the biggest variable, and there’s nothing we can do about that,” Hong said. “And it’s difficult enough to predict results when we have so many young players on the field. So that makes it a little tough on the staff.”Speaking of injuries, Hong said right-hander Jang Jae-young, one of the Heroes’ top pitching prospects for the past couple of years, has opted for rehab, instead of surgery, 메이저 on his ailing pitching elbow.

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