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After strong spring start, lefty ace claims to be ready for season

All Headlines 17:23 March 23, 2017

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- After a strong preseason start Thursday, Doosan Bears' left-hander Chang Won-jun said he's fully ready for the regular season.

The ace for the two-time reigning Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) champion threw five shutout innings in a 9-2 victory over the Samsung Lions at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. He held the opponents to four hits and struck out four.

This was Chang's second and final preseason start, with the regular season set to begin on March 31. He'd also pitched for South Korea at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) earlier this month, at a time of the year when pitchers are normally far from optimal game shape, but Chang said he's feeling no ill effects.

"I tend to work myself into form fairly quickly anyway, and so I haven't had any problem after the WBC," Chang said. "It feels great to feel all prepared for the new season."

In this file photo taken on March 6, 2017, Chang Won-jun of South Korea delivers a pitch against Israel in their World Baseball Classic game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. Chang is back with his Korea Baseball Organization club, Doosan Bears. (Yonhap)

Chang was part of the KBO's best rotation last season alongside the league MVP Dustin Nippert, Michael Bowden and Yoo Hee-kwan. The Bears became the first KBO team to boast four 15-game winners in one season, with Chang matching his career-high with 15 wins and setting a new personal best with 137 strikeouts.

The 31-year-old has also been one of the KBO's most consistent pitchers. He has reached double figures in wins in seven consecutive seasons and has tossed at least 100 innings in every year except for his rookie season in 2004.

For this year, Chang said he wants to get to double digits in wins and record more than 100 strikeouts again, while also cutting down on his walks.

His walk totals have increased in each of the past five seasons, and he handed out 76 free passes last year, the second-highest total of his career.

"Last year, I couldn't go deep into games several times because of walks," Chang said. "The primary goal is to win 10 games, and once I get there, I'll think about winning 15."


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