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(3rd LD) Asian Games status in doubt for injured baseball players

All Headlines 22:15 July 25, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS details on another injured player in paras 14-17, photo)

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- Three members of the South Korean national baseball team have come down with injuries that have put their status for the upcoming Asian Games in doubt.

On the mend in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) are SK Wyverns third baseman Choi Jeong, LG Twins pitcher Cha Woo-chan and NC Dinos second baseman Park Min-woo. All three players have been taken off the active roster, meaning they must be sidelined for at least 10 days. Since there is no disabled list in the KBO, clubs here remove their injured players from the active roster while they rehab.

The Wyverns said Wednesday their power-hitting third baseman could be out for about three weeks after suffering a thigh injury on a slide into home plate during Tuesday's game against the Doosan Bears.

Choi, tied for the KBO lead with 31 home runs, was immediately taken to a local hospital and underwent further tests Wednesday. Choi will receive treatment in Japan, the Wyverns said.

Choi Jeong of the SK Wyverns (R) is tagged out by Yang Eui-ji of the Doosan Bears at home plate in the bottom of the fourth inning of the teams' Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Incheon SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on July 24, 2018. Choi suffered a left thigh injury on the play and could be out for about three weeks. (Yonhap)

Choi, 31, led the league in home runs in each of the past two years, with 40 in 2016 and 46 in 2017. He's trying to become the first KBO player ever to hit 40 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons.

The Asian Games, co-hosted by Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia, will open on Aug. 18, 24 days from Wednesday. South Korea, the defending baseball champion, will open its gold medal defense on Aug. 26 against Taiwan.

National team manager Sun Dong-yol, who selected Choi as his likely starting third baseman, said while the injury was "unfortunate," he wasn't ready to make any immediate change.

"Since he's going to need about three weeks, we're going to monitor his rehab and decide where we'll go from there," said Sun, who will gather the national team players for practice on Aug. 18 in Seoul. "I hope all of our players will stay healthy."

In this file photo from May 20, 2018, Cha Woo-chan of the LG Twins throws a pitch against the Hanwha Eagles in the top of the second inning of the teams' Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Also on Wednesday, Cha was taken off the active roster by the LG Twins with a left hip injury. LG manager Ryu Joong-il said Cha will undergo treatment over the next 10 days and could still remain on the Asian Games team.

Cha, a versatile lefty who can start or pitch out of the pen, is 7-8 with a 6.17 ERA in 20 starts. He has struggled mightily in four July appearances, having gone 0-3 while allowing 28 earned runs in 18 1/3 innings for an ERA of 13.75.

Against the Samsung Lions on Tuesday, Cha was rocked for six earned runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Ryu said he spoke with Cha after that loss, and the pitcher revealed he had been pitching with some discomfort on his left side.

"I asked him why he didn't tell me earlier, and he said, 'I figured I could pitch through it until the Asian Games,'" Ryu said. "He's lost so much velocity, and he did look uncomfortable on the mound last night. But if he can get this treated over the next 10 days, he can return to action on Aug. 4 and still compete at the Asian Games."

The Dinos took Park off their active roster Wednesday, as the second baseman has been dealing with discomfort in his left thigh.

The Dinos said he could play through it, but they felt it'd be better for both the player and the club if he were at 100 percent.

They added Park hurt his left leg on Friday.

Park, a career .321 hitter, is batting .302 this year.

In this file photo from March 25, 2018, Park Min-woo of the NC Dinos is in action against the LG Twins in the teams' Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Masan Stadium in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

According to the KBO, the national team may only replace an injured member with a player already on the provisional roster. To make a change, it must submit a medical report on the injured player to the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee and receive approval from the Baseball Federation of Asia and the Asian Games organizing committee.

And changes must be made by the eve of the technical delegate meeting, which is held two days before the start of the baseball tournament. Baseball's preliminary round begins on Aug. 21.


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