Can Ahn Woo-jin (24, Kiwoom), the best ace in the KBO League, use elbow surgery as an opportunity for recovery? If he resolves his military service obligations during his rehabilitation period, a bright future may open up for him.메이저놀이터
Ahn Woo-jin, who was cruising to 1st place in strikeouts (164) and 2nd place in ERA (2.39) in the 2023 season, was suddenly decided to be out of the season on the 2nd. He visited the hospital to treat pain in his right elbow caused by accumulated fatigue. During the examination, ligament damage was suspected, and a detailed examination revealed damage to the medial collateral ligament. Woojin Ahn decided to end the season early and undergo reconstruction of the medial collateral ligament of his elbow.
Ahn Woo-jin, a graduate of Whimoon High School, was selected in the first round by the Nexen in the 2018 rookie draft and grew into a representative ace of the KBO League, winning 15 games last year. Last year, he earned the monster title by striking out 224 batters in 196 innings, and this year, he was cruising with 9 wins, 7 losses, and an average ERA of 2.39 in 24 games with a more stable performance. He was ranked high in various pitching indicators, including strikeouts and earned run average, as well as 1st in hitting percentage (.217), 2nd in WHIP (1.06), 3rd in innings (150⅔ innings), and 4th in quality starts (16 innings).
The head coach cited physical overload as the reason for Ahn Woo-jin’s sudden surgery. Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki, who met in Gocheok the day before, said, “It looks like the overload from last year’s season has continued into this season. “We delayed all preparations, including this year’s spring camp, and thought we would systematically take breaks in our own way, but I think it was a little insufficient,” he said. “Even if we were delayed a little due to rain cancellations (during the season) by one day, I think the probability of such adverse events occurring would have been small.” analyzed.
Typically, elbow ligament reconstruction requires up to a year of rehabilitation. Under the assumption that he will undergo surgery in September, he will not be able to return to the field until the end of next season at the earliest. If rehabilitation progresses even a little slowly, there is a possibility that the entire 2024 season will be missed. It is a disappointing departure for Ahn Woo-jin, who has been dubbed the KBO League’s strongest ace since last year. He had just spread his wings and started his high-altitude march, but he was forced to take a year-long break.
However, on the other hand, there is also a view that this surgery may be a blessing in disguise. Ahn Woo-jin, 24, has not yet fulfilled his military service obligation. Due to his past involvement in school violence, he was blocked from participating in the Asian Games and the Olympics, where military service benefits are at stake, so enlisting as a full-time military officer or serving on active duty was a realistic alternative, but an option has emerged to use the rehabilitation period as a time to resolve military issues.
Woojin Ahn, like Heroes seniors Ha-seong Kim (San Diego Padres) and Jeong-hoo Lee, has the possibility of advancing beyond the KBO League to the American Major League. Baseball experts are analyzing that Ahn Woo-jin’s pitch will work well in the big leagues. Of course, if he undergoes surgery and military issues are resolved, a gap of at least two years is inevitable, but if he is aiming to advance to the major leagues, his current choice may be one step back to take two steps forward.
However, nothing has been decided yet regarding Ahn Woo-jin’s future schedule. A Kiwoom official who met in Gocheok on the 3rd said, “Ahn Woo-jin has just greeted the players and is resting at his home. He has surgery first, so he has to find a hospital to have the surgery. “The issue of military enlistment has not yet been discussed with the club.” Director Hong Won-ki also remained silent, saying, “I don’t have time to think about that (resolving military service obligations).”
Meanwhile, before being expunged from the first team entry, Ahn Woo-jin said, “It is unfortunate that I could not be together until the end of the season, and I am sorry to the fans. Regardless of his personal performance, he feels sorry to the manager, coaches, and fellow players that the team has fallen into difficult times. He promised, “I will have a successful surgery and come back in good health.”