Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom, 25) has received the devastating news that he is out for the season. Korean baseball’s bid to win a fourth consecutive Asian Games title is in jeopardy.

Kiwoom Heroes outfielder Lee Jung-hoo has been diagnosed with an ankle injury that will require at least three months of rehabilitation.

On the 24th, Kiwoom said, “After undergoing a detailed examination including MRI and X-ray at CM Hospital and Sejong Sports Orthopaedic Surgery, I was diagnosed with a left ankle extensor ligament injury. The ligament is a damaged membrane that wraps around the ankle tendon, and suturing surgery is required to treat it.” He added, “I plan to schedule surgery after further examination at Sejong Sports Orthopaedic Surgery on the 25th. The rehabilitation period after surgery is expected to take about three months and is subject to change depending on the speed of recovery,” he said, effectively confirming Lee’s season-ending injury.

Lee started at third base against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Stadium on the 22nd of this month and was replaced in the eighth inning after feeling pain in his left ankle while fielding. Afterwards, there was an internal reaction from the club that the injury could be more serious than expected, but there was hope because it did not show symptoms such as a fracture.

However, as a result of the medical examination, surgery and a season-long absence became a very real possibility for the first time since his KBO debut in 2017. This is devastating news for Kiwoom.

Lee’s importance to Kiwoom is crucial as they have struggled with a batting slump all season. After struggling mightily early in the season, he was on pace for a late-season rebound, batting .319/105 with six doubles, six home runs, 45 RBI, 50 runs scored, and an OPS of 0.863 in 85 games. But with the confirmation of the surgery, Kiwoom’s autumn baseball dreams just got a whole lot tougher.

At the same time, the departure of Lee Jung-hoo, the team’s moral and practical leader, is the biggest blow to the ‘Liu Zhong-il Ho’ ahead of the most important international tournament. The national baseball team at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games will play a series of qualifying and main events before and after the tournament, which kicks off on 23 September.

No matter how fast Lee’s recovery period is, it is very difficult for him to play at the Asian Games, which are just two months away, due to a surgery that will take more than three months. The centrepiece of Ryu Joong-il’s beasts at the tournament was undoubtedly Lee Jung-hoo and Kang Baek-ho (KT), who are the same age.

Lee Jung-hoo, in particular, is a strong candidate for the captaincy of the yet-to-be-determined squad. With Kang Baek-ho struggling this season with his WBC appearance and attitude controversy, there was more expectation for Lee to be a leader on and off the field. After being named the league MVP last season, there were many rosy predictions in and out of the baseball world that Lee would be a leader and key player for the national team, culminating in a gold medal before heading to the major leagues.토토사이트

Lee’s departure has thrown a warning light on Ryu’s plans to win a fourth consecutive title, following Guangzhou in 2010, Incheon in 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang in 2018.

This time around, South Korea had accelerated its generational change, including the inclusion of Jang Hyun-seok (Masan Yongmago), the country’s top amateur pitcher, and a number of new recruits from the league. However, with the loss of a key member of the team, the tournament strategy had to be completely rethought.

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