Doosan Bears catcher Yang Yang-ji, 36, continues to wear a catcher’s mask despite his physical condition. And he’s still as good as ever.카지노사이트
Yang started the Bears’ 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against the Lotte Giants at Munsu Baseball Stadium in Ulsan on 1 January as the team’s No. 4 hitter and catcher.
Yang, who also played in the previous day’s game, was replaced by Jang Seung-hyun (29) in the bottom of the ninth inning before taking the field. He felt some discomfort in his back and returned to the bench for protection. “His back felt a little bit bad during the game, and he said it was a little bit hard at the end, so I replaced him because we have a game today (1 January) and if he pushed himself too hard, it would affect him until today,” explained Doosan coach Lee Seung-yeop (47) before the game.
Despite playing with a sore back, Yang made an impact with the bat and ball. In the top of the first inning, Doosan had a chance to score when Yang singled to left field. Then, in the next at-bat, he hit a double over the right-field fence off Lotte starter Charlie Barnes to bring Yang home. It was a big moment for Doosan, who hadn’t scored a run the previous day.
Yang added an RBI single in the top of the fourth that hit the shortstop and rolled towards centre field. He struck out in his third at-bat in the sixth, but in the ninth, he led off with a walk. Although the next batter, Kim Jae-hwan, struck out to end the threat, Yang continued to create scoring opportunities.
But Yang’s best defence came in the bottom of the ninth inning. Leading 2-0, Doosan brought in closer Hong Gun-hee to close out the game, but with one out, he gave up three consecutive hits to Han Dong-hee, Park Seung-wook and Kang Nam to pull within one run. With runners on first and second and one out, Lee decided to remove Hong and bring in set-up man Chung Chul-won.
He faced the first batter, Kim Min-seok, and struck him out swinging on seven pitches. He then faced Ko Seung-min with a 0-pitch, 2-strike count, and threw a forked ball on the third pitch of the at-bat, only for it to be wildly overthrown, putting runners on second and third. In a moment of crisis, Chung took the plunge and threw another forkball. It went into the boundary, but this time Yang made a flying catch to prevent the runner from advancing.
After battling to a full count, Chung eventually struck out Ko Seung-min on a wild pitch. This time, a dropped forkball was the difference. “I threw it because I trusted my brother (Yang) that I could do it again even though it hit the ground once,” said Chung.
“I’m also very grateful to be able to play with the best catcher in Korea,” said right-hander Kwak Bin, who shared the starting pitching duties with Yang. “What he did for the team even though he was sick is something I hope our team can emulate,” he said.
“I know the fans are worried about my back,” Yang said after the game, “but I can concentrate on the game because they take care of it really thoroughly in the training part,” he added. “I think the only way I can repay their support and worry is to play as many games as possible and help the team win,” he said.
Yang, who returned to Doosan as a free agent ahead of this season with a 4+2-year contract worth up to 15.2 billion won ($15.2 million), has shown that he is still a force to be reckoned with at the age of 36. On day one of the season, he is batting .321 with seven home runs, 36 RBIs, five doubles and a .900 OPS. He’s been hitting the ball well early on, and he’s doing his part by fitting right in with the rest of the Doosan lineup.
Yang struggled with nagging injuries in his final two years with the NC Dinos (2021 and 2022). In 2021, he even won a Golden Glove as a designated hitter instead of a catcher. As a result, Doosan has been very considerate of him. In 68 games last season, he played 53 games and 422 innings with a catcher’s mask. That ranks seventh among all 10 clubs’ starting catchers. Despite this, Doosan is managing him by using him as a designated hitter instead of giving him complete rest.
“I was actually overdoing it. When I wasn’t playing as a catcher, I was playing as a designated hitter,” he said. “I had a rest period when my shin wasn’t good, but I think it would be too much for me to play full-time for a week,” he diagnosed. “The secret to the pitchers’ success is obviously the strength of the bat,” said Lee, who said, “I would like him to play a lot of games, but we have to consider his physical condition and back.”
Yang Ji has been playing with back pain that even the manager admits is too much. However, he is playing so well that he doesn’t feel it at all. It’s proof that he’s the best catcher in the world.