Jung Woo-young (24), the national submarine pitcher of the LG Twins, was eventually put on the operating table. Elbow bone fragment osteostomy was performed, and the operation was successfully completed.
An official from the LG Twins said on the 16th, “Jung Woo-young underwent osteostomy for a bone fragment in his right elbow at Sejong Sports Orthopedic Surgery on the 15th,” adding, “The surgery has been completed well and he is currently recovering.”
Elbow bone fragment removal surgery is a relatively simple procedure and takes about 3 to 4 months for rehabilitation. There is a big difference compared to elbow ligament junction surgery (tomizone surgery) that requires about 1 to 2 years of rehabilitation. Therefore, if Jung Woo-young goes through rehabilitation procedures normally, he will be able to pitch before the opening of the regular season, even if it is difficult to participate in the Arizona spring camp in the U.S. in February next year.
Jung Woo-young, who graduated from Gapyeong Elementary School, Gangnam Middle School, and Seoul High School, wore the LG Twins uniform as the 15th overall pick in the second round of the 2019 rookie draft. The down payment for joining was 100 million won.
As soon as Jung Woo-young joined LG, he played as a main bullpen under the trust of then manager Ryu Joong-il. In the 2019 season, his first year of joining the club, he pitched in 56 games, recording a 4-6 loss, 1 save, and 16 hold ERA of 3.72. In the end, he won the Rookie of the Year award based on his outstanding performance. It was the sixth time in history that a former LG Twins player (including MBC Blue Dragon) won the Rookie of the Year award after Kim Gun-woo (1986), Lee Yong-cheol (1988), Kim Dong-soo (1990), Ryu Ji-hyun (1993) and Lee Byung-kyu (1997). It was also the moment when the rookie of the year from LG Twins was born 22 years after “Red Toma” Lee Byung-kyu. In addition, it was the year when a player who celebrated his first year as a professional player for three consecutive years, following Lee Jung-hoo (Kium) in 2017 and Kang Baek-ho (KT) in 2018, embraced the Rookie of the Year award.
Jung Woo-young continued to grow. In the 2020 season, he played in 65 games with 4 wins, 4 losses, 5 saves, and 20 holds with a 3.12 ERA. However, it was also the season where he played 75 innings, the most out of his five career seasons. At that time, Jung Woo-young had 48 hits (three home runs) and 29 walks, 59 strikeouts, and 26 runs (26 earned runs) in 75 innings.
The 2021 season was a career high season. He played a career-high 70 games, boasting an overwhelming 7 wins, 3 losses, 2 saves, and 27 holds with an ERA of 2.22. He gave up 43 hits in 65 innings, and it was “untouchable” to the extent that he did not allow a single home run. In the end, after the 2021 season, the annual salary was raised by 100 million won from 180 million won to 280 million won.
In the 2022 season, Jung Woo-young did his part just like the 2021 season. Ahead of the start of the season, he worked hard to gain weight during the offseason. Jung Woo-young, whom I met at the camp at the time, said, “I always maintained 84kg last year (2021), but now I weigh 93kg,” adding, “I increased my muscle mass by about 5kg.” The reason he chose bulk-up was that he felt his physical strength decline toward the end of the previous season. The result was a great success. Jung Woo-young took the mound in 67 games in the 2022 season with 2 wins, 3 losses, 35 saves and a 2.64 ERA, winning his first hold king title in his career. In 58 innings, he had 48 hits (three homers) with 32 walks, 40 strikeouts, and 18 runs (17 earned runs).
He also showed interest in the U.S. Major League Baseball. Jung Woo-young’s biggest weapon is two-seam fastball. A major league scout said, “Jung Woo-young’s pitching spirit falls very sharply and bends a lot. In addition, the speed of the vehicle is about 94 miles (151 kilometers). “It’s not easy to hit a ball like this in the KBO league,” he said. Jung Woo-young used various pitches such as four-seam fastballs, sliders, and changeups in his first year as a professional, but has since gradually started to increase his two-seam utilization rate. Players who played in the Major League in the past even acknowledged Jung Woo-young’s fighting spirit. Adam Plutko, who broke up with LG after the end of this season, also praised Jung Woo-young, saying, “I think he will work as an intermediate pitcher in the Major League even if he shows just one slider to the outside.” Opposition foreign batters also believe that Jung Woo-young’s pitching will work in the Major League.
Jung Woo-young played 65 ⅓ (2019), 75 innings (2020), 65 innings (2021) and 58 innings (2022), respectively, ahead of the 2023 season. Was it because he had been running nonstop for four years. Jung Woo-young had a rather difficult time this season. In 60 games, he pitched in relief, with a 5-6, 11-hold ERA of 4.70, the highest number in five seasons he played. He allowed 63 hits (one home run) in 51 ⅔ innings, and the number of hits he hit increased to 15 with 17 walks. Compared to the 2022 season (six), there are more than twice the number of balls that fit the body. Eventually, he was listed as injured in early July and early August.
Still, Jung Woo-young did not drop out until the end of the season and was with the team. On April 8, he earned his 100th career hold in a home game against the Samsung Lions, the youngest player (23 years, 7 months, 20 days) in the KBO league history and the lowest 100 hold in 261 games. He also dedicated himself to the national team. In March, he played for the country in the WBC (World Baseball Classic) tournament wearing the national flag. He then played as a pitcher for the national team at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and won the gold medal.
In this year’s postseason, Jung Woo-young also had his first experience in the Korean Series. Jung Woo-young allowed two hits and one strikeout in one ⅓ in Game 2 of the Korean Series against KT on November 8, and marked one hit and two runs (one earned) in ⅓ innings in Game 3 of the Korean Series against KT on November 10. Although it gave up a run, LG was able to win in the top of the ninth inning with Oh Ji-hwan crushing a dramatic upset three-run shot.
Jung Woo-young is a sidearm resource representing Korean baseball as well as LG. Although he had some difficulties this season, he can be said to be a player who will be responsible for LG’s next 10 years or more. He also has a strong spirit of challenge to the extent that he once considered changing the starting lineup. LG fans are cheering for Jung Woo-young, who has completed surgery, waiting for the day when he takes the mound next season in a healthier way.