He wasn’t running fast to catch the ball, nor did he make a risky play that could have led to injury. How did Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes) get injured?
“Outfielder Lee Jung-hoo was diagnosed with a left ankle extensor ligament injury after undergoing a detailed examination including MRI and X-ray at CM Hospital and Sejong Sports Orthopedic Surgery,” Kiwoom announced on April 24. “An extensor ligament injury is a damage to the membrane that wraps around the ankle tendon and requires suture surgery to treat.”
Lee’s injury occurred on April 22 against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Stadium in Busan. Lee abruptly signaled to the bench in the bottom of the eighth inning after catching Lotte’s leadoff hitter Kim Min-seok’s single up the middle without any abnormalities. Lee doesn’t usually show much emotion when he’s not feeling well, so his signal seemed out of character.스포츠토토
After receiving Lee’s signal, the trainer on the Kiwoom bench rushed to the outfield. Lee pointed to his left ankle and began to limp, and was soon supported by the trainer. His ankle seemed to be in worse shape than when he first felt it. Lee went back to the bench and was treated with icing, and was eventually removed from the first team before the 23rd match.
As it was a weekend game and there was no access to a doctor, it was difficult to confirm the status of Lee’s ankle, but it was clear that it was not in good condition. Head coach Hong Won-ki and his teammates were clearly shocked by the departure of one of the team’s ‘mainstays’. Even if it wasn’t a major injury, it would have been impossible for him to miss 10 days without being removed from the first team.
“I’m concerned that he used that kind of language because he’s a player who doesn’t hide his feelings,” said Hong Won-ki. “He needs to go to the hospital, but from what I’ve heard, it doesn’t seem like (the injury) is light, so it hurts my heart,” said Lee Jung-hoo’s teammate and best friend Kim Hye-sung. “It’s (Lee) Jung-hoo, our captain, our core. I hope it’s not a serious injury at all.”
And Song Sung-moon, who was the protagonist of the ‘370-minute’ battle, said after the game on the 23rd, “I hope (Lee) Jung-hoo’s checkup results are not bad. One person can’t fill the gap left by Jung-hoo,” but also emphasized that “the rest of the players will gather their strength little by little and play persistently.” However, despite his teammates’ wishes, Lee’s injury was not taken lightly. He’s effectively out for the season.
“According to the player himself, he felt something wrong with his ankle while running to first base on Kim Min-seok’s hit,” Hong Won-ki said. A Kiwoom official also quoted the club’s trainer as saying, “Sometimes players get injured like that.”
Lee will need surgery and is expected to be out of the lineup for about three months. “Lee Jung-hoo will be scheduled for surgery after further examination at Sejong Sports Orthopedics on the 25th,” Kiwoom said, adding, “The rehabilitation period after surgery will take about three months.” Of course, it could be shorter or longer, as each person recovers at a different pace, but it’s clear that this is a devastating situation for both Kiwoom and Lee.
Kiwoom won the “Winning Series” against Lotte in a three-game series on the first weekend after the All-Star break. However, unlike last year’s Korean Series runner-up, Kiwoom currently sits in eighth place. The battle for the top spot is fierce, and they can always make a run at the mid-table if they can get their act together, but without their ‘key’ player, Lee Jung-hoo, it won’t be easy.
For Lee Jung-hoo himself, the injury is devastating. That’s why he’s hoping to make it to the major leagues through the ‘posting system’ after this season. Of course, this injury shouldn’t diminish his career, but it will be difficult for him to get a better contract with a good performance in the second half of the season.
The Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) team is also a ‘super emergency’. Lee Jeong-hoo is not only a big hitter in the KBO, but he is also the centerpiece of the national team. The Asian Games start at the end of September, and Lee’s expected rehabilitation period is three months, so it’s unlikely he’ll be able to play under the Korean flag. As the Asian Games allow for players to be replaced even close to the tournament, the KBO will continue to monitor Lee’s recovery and the physical condition of his replacement.
For now, Kiwoom will rely on new foreign batsman Ronnie Dawson to cover Lee’s absence. “Dawson’s main position is center field, and I think the best picture is for him to play center field until Lee Jung-hoo comes back,” said Hong Won-ki.