“I went up to three digits in weight and lost eight kilograms.” ‘294 days’ of heartache on the first team mound, ‘149km’ fastball to announce his health

Doosan Bears pitcher Lee Young-ha is finally back on the mound after 294 days. It took more than nine months for him to be acquitted in the first round of his trial for alleged bullying. After a long wait, Lee showed off his health on the mound, throwing a fastball up to 149 km/h.

Doosan added Lee to its roster on June 3 against the Suwon KT WIZ. Lee filled the void left by Chung Chul-won, who was suspended for late-night drinking at the WBC the previous day.

Coach Lee Seung-yeop said, “Lee Young-ha said she was fine, but I didn’t enroll her in the first team right away because I was worried that she might lack some practical experience, but with Chung Chul-won out, we didn’t have much of an alternative. For his first start, we’re going to put him in a more relaxed situation so he can pitch without pressure. If he pitches as well as he did in the Futures League, he will be able to fill the void left by Chul-won Jung.”

Three days before the game, Lee met with the media and said, “It feels good to come to a ballpark like this after a long time, and the fans are there. My teammates are half welcoming, half teasing (laughs). (Park) Chi-guk was the most excited because he didn’t have anyone to play with, and I’m looking forward to sharing the battery with (Yang) Will for the first time in a long time,” he said.

Lee Young-ha made one appearance in the Futures League and was immediately promoted to the first team. “It’s been a long time since I’ve pitched in practice, but there were no sensory problems. I think I’ll adapt quickly. I thought I’d reach 155km/h because I’ve been off for a long time, but I didn’t get as much restraint as I thought (laughs). I’ve been looking at the data with the second team coaches to fix things like my arm angle and center shift that I couldn’t fix on the first team mound,” he said.

Doosan currently has a big hole in its starting rotation. In addition to foreign pitcher Dylan Pyle, who is on the disabled list, Kwak Bin and Choi Won-jun have been removed from the first team roster due to back pain and sluggishness, respectively. The team will be without two to four starters for the foreseeable future.

There is a possibility that Lee Young-ha, who has played in the starting rotation in the past, could join the starting lineup, but Lee doesn’t expect to see a ‘starting Lee Young-ha’ this season.

“I think Lee will have to take on a bullpen role this season, and I don’t think he has enough time to prepare for a starting role. He needs to throw three or four more games to get his pitch count up, and that will take more than a month. It would be good if he can fulfill his role as a middle setup man this season.”

Young-ha Lee is also not looking for a starting role right away. “I think it would be greedy for me to start this season. I want to throw as many pitches as possible out of the bullpen and lead the team to victory. Talking about next season is too far away. It’s important to pitch well in the position I’m given right now.”

On the day of the game, Lee surprised everyone by showing up with a much thinner body. She revealed that she had actually lost 8 kilograms.

“I originally tried to lose about 3 to 4 kilograms, but I lost about 8 kilograms. When I was fat, my weight was almost in the mid-three digits, but now it’s in the mid-two digits (laughs). People told me that my face looked better as I lost weight. I think I’m in better shape thanks to the weight loss, so I’m ready to go. I will show my performance on the baseball field in the future.”

It didn’t take long to see Lee’s return to the first team. Taking the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning with a comfortable 3-13 lead in the 먹튀검증 three-game series, Young-ha made his first appearance since August 13 last year against the Jamsil SSG Landers, 294 days after his last start.

In the first batter’s box and with runners on 2B-2S, Lee struck out the side with a five-pitch 135 km/h slider. After striking out the first two batters he faced, Lee struck out Ahn Chi-young on a fly ball to right field, gave up a single to Kang Hyun-woo in left field, and induced Jang Jun-won to ground out to first base to complete the comeback.

On the day, Lee topped out at 149 km/h (club measurement) on his fastball. With his fastball and slider still in good shape, Lee’s hope that Young-ha can fill in for Chung for the time being seems more realistic. It will be interesting to see if Lee can be the hero that saves the Doosan mound from the chaos it has become in June.