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Veteran KBO pitcher Yoo Hee-kwan retires

All News 15:32 January 18, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- Veteran pitcher Yoo Hee-kwan, who exuded an everyman charm with his slow pitches, a rotund built and fun-loving persona, announced his retirement from baseball Tuesday at age 35.

The Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said the left-hander told them earlier in the day he would hang up his spikes for good.

In this file photo from Oct. 10, 2021, Yoo Hee-kwan of the Doosan Bears pitches against the NC Dinos in the bottom of the second inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

"After thinking long and hard about my future, I have decided to retire," Yoo said. "As I watched young pitchers develop last year, I decided it was time for me to get out of the way and let those players take over."

Yoo compiled a career record of 101-69 in 281 appearances with a 4.58 ERA across 1,410 innings. He is the only left-handed pitcher in Bears' history to win over 100 games.

Yoo was drafted in the sixth round by the Bears in 2008 and made his KBO debut in 2009. He joined the starting rotation in the middle of 2013 and went on to become one of the league's most durable and consistent starters -- despite ranking nearly the bottom in average fastball velocity every year.

Yoo reached double figures in wins every season from 2013 to 2020, including a career-high 18 in 2015. Yoo won Korean Series titles in 2015, 2016 and 2019.

In this file photo from Oct. 3, 2021, Yoo Hee-kwan of the Doosan Bears pitches against the Samsung Lions in the top of the first inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Yoo suffered through his worst season as a starter in 2021, as he put up a 7.71 ERA in 63 innings with a 4-7 record in 15 starts.

"I hope young pitchers will lead the Bears to a great future," Yoo said. "I will always cheer for this team."

Yoo will have his retirement press conference on Thursday at the Bears' home park, Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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