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Cardinals' Kim Kwang-hyun hospitalized with kidney ailment, goes on injured list

All News 09:03 September 06, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- St. Louis Cardinals' South Korean starter Kim Kwang-hyun has been placed on the injured list (IL) with a kidney ailment, bringing his promising rookie season to an abrupt halt.

In this Getty Images photo, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the bottom of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Sept. 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

The Cardinals announced Saturday (U.S. local time) that they've put Kim on the IL, retroactive to Wednesday. According to the Cardinals, Kim experienced abdominal pain on Friday morning and was taken to the emergency room at a Chicago hospital, where he was diagnosed with renal infarction.

Kim last pitched on Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds and earned his second win of the season thanks to five shutout innings.

Kim had been scheduled to start against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago at 6:08 p.m. Sunday local time, or 8:08 a.m. Monday in his native country. It will be the fourth game of a five-game set between the National League Central rivals that began Friday.

Cardinals' President John Mozeliak told reporters that Kim, who's been placed on blood thinners, is feeling much better and that Kim will return to St. Louis on Sunday. He'll be allowed to participate in baseball activities at Busch Stadium once he's back in St. Louis, and Mozeliak said the Cardinals "feel really good about what we've learned" about Kim's condition.

"The optimism for him to pitch or the expectation for him to pitch at some point this year is still a real possibility," Mozeliak said, as quoted by MLB.com. "What you really don't want to have happen is obviously any bleeding or any bruising. What it has to do with is just sort of protecting himself. We want to see how the medication works with him for the next week or so, and then pending on how that goes, we'll then determine if we could actually use him in a game and how we would do that."

In this Associated Press file photo from Aug. 17, 2020, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals lets out a scream after delivering a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the bottom of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Yonhap)

The 32-year-old has thrived as a starter after beginning his rookie big league season as the team's closer. In five games, he has a 2-0 record and a save with a 0.83 ERA. He has a 0.44 ERA in his first four starts, the lowest by a rookie left-hander since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Kim hasn't given up an earned run in his last 17 innings.

An MVP-winning starter in 13 years in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Kim signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals last December and opened the season as the closer in July. After the Cardinals returned from a two-week hiatus forced by a COVID-19 outbreak within the team, Kim moved into the rotation and has been one of their most reliable starters since then.

The Cardinals' rotation is already missing former All-Star Carlos Martinez (COVID-19) and Miles Mikolas (forearm injury). Mikolas had his season-ending surgery in late July, and Martinez could be back Tuesday.

Mozeliak said the Cardinals were aware of Kim's history of kidney issues before acquiring him, though the pain Kim experienced on Friday was unexpected. The team was initially concerned that Kim had suffered appendicitis.

"This has some level of more severity for long term but is also something that's controllable and manageable that you don't have to have surgical intervention," Mozeliak said. "So, to some level, there's some relief."

In this Associated Press file photo from Aug. 27, 2020, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals pauses after giving up an RBI single to Jacob Stallings of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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