Tag Archives: baseball

Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Three

Hyun-jin Ryu Pitched with a Shoulder Injury for Two Years

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Last Wednesday, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu decided to undergo shoulder surgery to figure out what was wrong with his shoulder and shut himself down for the season. Ryu’s shoulder issues have flared up in his first two seasons with the Dodgers, and the surgery seemed like a good option with a long term goal in mind.

But at a press conference on Friday, Ryu revealed there was precedence for all his shoulder problems: He had been pitching the last two years with a torn labrum. Ryu and the Dodgers had known about the injury before the team signed the pitcher in the winter of 2012. They both knew, Ryu said, following the initial MRI the Dodgers asked him to undergo prior to the contract signing.

Through an interpreter, Ryu added that it was his decision to pitch, even though he was usually in pain. “I can’t really pick a certain date [when I pitched pain-free], but there were certain times without pain,” Ryu said.

Then-Dodgers general manager signed Ryu to a six-year, $36 million contract, along with the $26 million posting fee, despite knowing the nature of the southpaw’s shoulder. Still, the first two years have been a clear win on the investment, as Ryu slotted in comfortably and effectively behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and helped lead the Dodgers to consecutive National League West division titles, not to mention galvanized the Korean fanbase.

Zach Helfand at the Los Angeles Times noted the instances when Ryu’s shoulder issues first began coming into play: A “mysterious bullpen conclave” during the 2013 National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves before Ryu’s start, then his stint on the disabled list to begin the 2014 season with “shoulder inflammation” before being shut down in September.

Leading up to the 2015 season, the Dodgers shut Ryu down in March during spring training—this time due to “shoulder irritation.” Ryu was planning to return sometime in May or even June, but the team shut him down again when he didn’t show any improvement in arm strength.

Ryu still has a tough hill to climb—shoulder operations are considered much riskier than elbow procedures—but the Dodgers expect the pitcher to be ready for spring training next year. Manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times that after speaking with head athletic trainer Stan Conte, the damage to Ryu’s shoulder appeared to be “relatively minor.”


Featured image via Yahoo News/Getty Images

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Hyun-jin Ryu Elects Shoulder Surgery, Most Likely Out for Season

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Los Angeles Dodgers starting southpaw Hyun-jin Ryu has decided to undergo shoulder surgery on his injured pitching shoulder, which has kept him from playing at all this season. The team also officially announced this afternoon that Ryu will have an arthroscopic procedure tomorrow, performed by team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

The latest MRI on Ryu’s shoulder did not show a torn labrum or apparent structural damage, according to ESPN. The surgery will be exploratory to identify what is causing the inflammation in the shoulder.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman confirmed that surgery was being discussed as Ryu undergoes further consultation with team physicians. Friedman said the team was also preparing for the likely possibly of losing Ryu for the rest of the year.

The 28-year-old lefty aborted his first rehab attempt in March when he felt tightness in the shoulder during a bullpen session, in which his pitches were well-below his average velocity. When he’s been healthy the last two years, Ryu has been excellent, with 344 innings pitched of 3.17 ERA, with 7.7 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.

For the boys in blue, Ryu would be the second starting pitcher to be lost for the year to surgery: Brandon McCarthy underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow earlier this year, and he isn’t expected to be back until midway through the 2016 season. The Dodgers will most likely be on the market for a starting pitcher to bolster the rotation. Most fans probably did not expect Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger to be mainstays when the season began, although both are pitching quite decently.

Ryu is currently in the third year of a six-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers after being signed out of South Korea in 2012 for a $25.7 million posting fee. He’s owed $7 million annually from 2016-2018—just drops of water in a huge bucket for the Dodgers.


Kang HR

Jung Ho Kang Heating Up, Keeping Struggling Pirates Afloat

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

“Jung-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!”

Pittsburgh Pirates fans first heard that line from their home team play-by-play announcer back on Sunday, May 3 when Jung Ho Kang the first home run of his major league career. The pressure’s been on Kang to live up to his four-year, $16 million contract before this season, and it hasn’t helped that Kang hasn’t seen too much playing time due to a logjam of infielders.

But as the 28-year-old South Korean has become more accustomed to the major leagues this season, we may hear more of “Jung-Ho-Ho” doing his thing.

“I’m impressed with his make-up,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m impressed with the mental strength that he’s shown and the discipline. There’s a lot going on with this guy.”

Kang has emerged as one of the most consistent hitters on a struggling Pirates roster—in particular, third baseman Josh Harrison—while also maintaining a solid presence on defense. This weekend, Kang had his fingerprints all over the Pirates’ series win over the league-best division rivals St. Louis Cardinals.

In game one of the series on Friday, Kang came in as a defensive sub late in the game, getting a hit and scoring a run as the Pirates’ rally fell short. The 8-5 loss was punctuated by a peculiar moment when Kang struck out in the eighth inning while standing outside of the batter’s box. Kang had asked for a timeout and began to back out, but the umpire did not grant him the time. The pitch was over the plate for strike three, and Kang didn’t seem too happy with the situation.

GTY 472649702 S BBN USA PAKang after the strikeout. He isn’t having it. Like, seriously. (Image via Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Things would change on Saturday, though, as Kang got the start and went 2 for 4 at the plate with a run scored. But he also got to be a part of baseball history on defense as the Pirates turned the first 4-5-4 (second baseman to third, back to second) triple play ever. The Pirates would beat the Cards, 7-5. Check out the crazy video below.

Kang was slated into the starting lineup again on Sunday, batting at the No. 2 spot for the first time. Wielding a hot pink bat in honor of Mother’s Day and breast cancer awareness, Kang kept his hot streak at the plate going, opening the scoring with a home run (the second bottle of rum for his career), then driving in the winning run with a single in the seventh inning.

By the way, you have to appreciate how the Pirates broadcasters say “Kang” with the proper Korean pronunciation. The Pirate’s pull-over throwback jerseys also look fantastic.

“As I’ve been playing in more games, getting more at-bats, my confidence is increasing,” Kang said through an interpreter after Sunday’s game. “The more pitches I see, the more control I have over the game. I’m going to do a better job with runners in scoring position, too.”

Kang has hit .429 in his last 35 at-bats, and he enters Monday’s game with a .333/.337/.521 line on the season. He’s also slated for this third-straight start in tonight’s game, and he’ll look to continue his hot streak 1/5th of the way through the long baseball season.


Feature image via Pittsburgh Pirates Instagram

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Conger Astros

Hank Conger’s First Hit as an Astro Lifts Team to Extra-Innings Win

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Houston Astro catcher Hank Conger hasn’t had too many opportunities to play early in the 2015 season, so it didn’t take long for him to capitalize on his first appearance last night in an extra-innings thriller against the Texas Rangers.

In fact, it just took one pitch. In his first at-bat in the top of the 14th inning, Conger swung at the first pitch he saw from Logan Verrett and sent it out into the right field bleachers over the head of Shin-soo Choo. That was Conger’s first hit and first home run of the season. The Astros took a 6-4 lead in what would become the final score.

Playing time has been hard to come by for Conger, with fellow catcher Juan Castro starting in front of him. Last night, Conger didn’t enter the game until the bottom of the 12th inning as a defensive sub after the Astros pinch-ran for Castro the inning before.

“I was just watching along with the game and trying to get the feel of the flow,” Conger told the Houston Chronicle. “I had a heads-up, ‘Hey, if he gets on, we might pinch-run for [Castro] here, so just get loose.”

Conger wouldn’t have played if it were not for Astro right fielder George Springer’s amazing game-saving catch in the bottom of the 10th inning. With the bases loaded, Springer leapt at the right field wall to rob the Rangers’ Leonys Martin of a walk-off grand slam.

You can watch Conger Hank hitting a two-run homer in the 14th inning here


Featured image via USA Today

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics

Shin-soo Choo Belts First Home Run of Season in Rangers Win

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

It must feel good to get the first one out of the way for Shin-soo Choo. The Texas Ranger outfielder isn’t known particularly for his power, but he hadn’t hit a home run in a major league game since August 23, 2014just days before his decision to undergo surgeries for his worsening shoulder and ankle put an early end to his injury-plagued season.

The South Korean clubbed a three-run home run against the Oakland A’s Thursday that put the Rangers up 8-0 in the fourth inning and ended the evening early for A’s starter Kendall Graveman. Choo finished 2 for 5 with two runs scored, helping the Rangers cruise to an easy 10-1 victory. Choo was 1 for 7 coming into the game with a double.

Choo batted second in the lineup Thursday as Rangers manager Jeff Banister continues to find a slot for him in the lineup. During spring training, the Rangers had him batting third, but he opened the season batting fifth. Last year, Choo was primarily batting leadoff until injuries to the team had him shifted around the lineup.

“I don’t think anybody wants to come to the park and change where they hit every single day,” Choo told Dallas News on Monday. “I know that I will have the same approach that I had last year wherever I hit. I’m going to swing at my pitch. Nothing is going to change.”

Shin-Soo Choo

Choo, 32, had the worst year of his career in 2014 as he struggled to play through injuries before prematurely ending his season. It was a very sour note for the Rangers and their fans, as they invested their hopes and a lot of money ($130 million over seven years) into the outfielder who was best known for his patient at-bats and ability to get on base. The Rangers finished at the bottom of the American League with a record of 67-95.

Choo began preparing for the 2015 season earlier than he ever had before in his career, vowing to make it a turning point in his career. “I’m sure the efforts I’m making now will pay off,” he said in December. “I no longer want to take any more criticism. At the end of the day, I’m sure all of the struggles I’ve been through [in 2014] will be remembered as times I feel thankful for after I overcome. I’ll regain the faith from fans who became frustrated from watching me struggle this year.”

The 2015 season is young, so Choo and the Rangers will have plenty of time figure things out. There’s not much reason to doubt his abilities and resilience that he has displayed throughout his careerbe sure to check out KoreAm‘s August/September 2014 cover story for a detailed look at the professional athlete who first came to the U.S. as an 18-year-old prospect from South Korea.


Feature image via CBS Sacramento

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Ryu rap

Hyun-jin Ryu Shows Off His Rapping Skills in Korean Commercial

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Hyun-jin Ryu can drop a sweet change-up. But did you know he can drop bars, too?

The Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw may have one of the best résumés among his peers when it comes to commercials and guest appearances. Ryu’s commercial for NH Card is just the latest in his exploration of his artistic side.

Ryu has always taken on side jobs in South Korea during the offseason, including an earlier commercial for Ottogi noodles and a guest appearance on the popular show Running Man, alongside fellow Korean baseball players Shin-soo Choo and Jung-ho Kang. Ryu also has a couple of K-pop singles under his belt, by the way.

During the regular season, he drags his teammates into his antics, like when he used Clayton Kershaw and (now former teammate) Matt Kemp as backup dancers. Maybe he can include Hank Conger the next time, too—the new Houston Astro’s twerking puts Miley Cyrus to shame.

In regards to his professional work, Ryu has been slowly resuming throwing activities while nursing a sore shoulder. The Dodgers began the season with him on the disabled list, and the team has stated they will allow him take as much time as needed before getting Ryu back on the mound.

If you’re looking for an in-depth read, be sure to check out our Hyun-jin Ryu cover story from August 2013.


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Korean Baseball Team Shoots a Fireball for First Pitch

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

There are first pitches in baseball, and there are Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) first pitches.

We’ve seen South Korean gymnasts and Taekwondo athletes do their thing. So how about a fireball from the top of the centerfield scoreboard this time around, courtesy of the KT Wiz?

Hat tip to Dan @MyKBO for always showing us the best and weirdest of Korean baseball.

Apparently, there is also a superstition among Korean baseball fans that when a male celebrity throws a first pitch during an important game, the home team loses. That explains the number of female celebrities tossing out the first pitch—it’s more than just about the outfit. #baseballreasons


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Link Attack: Roy Choi in Watts; Dogs Rescued From Meat Farm; Custom Emoji Keyboard

Video: Roy Choi Wants the Next Food Revolution to Start in Watts

The first location will be in Watts at a site that used to be smoke shop and a barbershop. Choi says that his team wanted to open a location somewhere in South Los Angeles, and they ended up focusing on Watts because of the sense of community they found there. (LAist)

Dogs Rescued from South Korean Meat Farm Brought to San Francisco

Thirteen frightened young dogs and puppies arrived in San Francisco in a van Thursday, some trembling, tails between their legs, others with sad but hopeful eyes, and all of them unaware of how close they came to an agonizing, gruesome death. (SF Gate)


Memoji Keyboard Allows You To Emojify Yourself

Johnny Lin, an ex-Apple engineer, created a way for users to upload their own faces as emoji. Angry Asian Man Phil Yu tries it out.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is Doing Shockingly Well in South Korea

Why is the movie such a huge hit in the South Korean film market? Cinema Blend speculates the reasons, from the visuals to the high fashion costume design to director Matthew Vaughn’s popularity in South Korea.

2015 - The Great Tiger (still 1)

23 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2015

Modern Korean Cinema lists the Korean films they’re most looking forward to this year.

Homebrew and House Parties: How North Koreans Have Fun

“Despite restrictions on money and free time, partying is integral to North Korean culture. But how does it compare to cutting loose in the South?” writes The Guardian.

Jung ho Kang

Korean Star Jung Ho Kang May Be Much Better Than Advertised

“In so many words, clubs just didn’t see many reasons to be optimistic about Kang,” writes Bleacher Report. “But as early as it is, one wonders how many are thinking differently these days.”

Searing Complaint Against Korean Church

The Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church is being sued for negligence in their hiring of a youth pastor, who the plaintiff claims repeatedly sexually molester her and her sister.

Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung Pledges to Solidify Status as Leading Bank

In his inauguration speech on March 18, Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung emphasized, “I will solidify our status as a leading bank.”

Cho said, “Through ceaseless innovation, we must create new opportunities and values and maintain the highest level of profitability and soundness.”

GM Canada Gets New General Counsel and Assistant GC, Peter Cho

It won’t be Cho’s first time behind the wheel of an automotive law department. He was most recently general counsel, corporate secretary and head of government relations at Volkswagen Group Canada, and has also has worked with Volkswagen Group China and Kia Canada.

Olympic Gateway

K-Town Landmarks Hope to Begin Summer Construction

The Olympic Gateway, a long-projected landmark for Los Angeles’ Koreatown, as well as the Madang project at Da Wool Jung, are expected to begin construction as soon as mid-May.

Korean Calligraphy Exhibition Open at Chicago Korean Cultural Center

On display are about 70 works by students of Kit-beol Village Calligrapher Lee Chul-woo. (Korea Times)

Four Korean American Officers Join Fairfax County Police Department After Graduating Academy

Arthur Cho, John Hong, Seung Meang and Shane Oh were among the 60 new police officers and deputies who graduated from the academy. This is the first time in the history of the department that an academy class had this many Korean-American graduates. (Centreville Independent)


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