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Ahn Woo-jin, a former Whimoon High School player, has grown into a representative ace of the KBO League by winning 15 games last year after receiving the first Nexen nomination in the 2018 Rookie Draft. He struck out 224 in 196 innings last year and was cruising with a 9 wins, 7 losses and a 2.39 ERA in 24 games, adding to his more stable game management this year. In addition to strikeouts and ERA, he was ranked at the top of various pitching indicators, including No. 1 batting average (.217), No. 2 WHIP (1.06), No. 3 in innings (150⅔ innings), and No. 4 in quality starts (16 times).

The head coach cited physical overload as the cause of Ahn Woo-jin’s sudden surgery. Kiwoom manager Hong Won-ki, who met at Gocheok the previous day, said, “The overload of last season seems to have continued until this season.” “I thought we were preparing for all the spring camps late this year and taking a break systematically, but I think it was a little insufficient,” he said adding, “Even if the cancellation of rain was delayed a day by day (during the season), there would be a good chance of this bad news.”

Elbow ligament reconstruction typically requires up to one year of rehabilitation. Under the assumption that he will undergo surgery in September, he will not be able to return to the ground until the end of next season at the earliest. If rehabilitation proceeds any slower, there is a possibility that the entire 2024 season will be rested. It is a disappointing departure for Ahn Woo-jin, who has been nicknamed the strongest ace in the KBO League since last year. He spread his wings and just started to fly high, but was forced to take a year’s rest.

However, on the contrary, there is also a view that this surgery may be a blessing in disguise. 24-year-old Ahn Woo-jin has yet to fulfill his military service obligations. In the past, military service or military service was a realistic alternative as military service at the Asian Games and Olympics, where military service benefits were at stake due to involvement in school violence, but there was an option to use the rehabilitation period as a time to solve military problems.

Ahn Woo-jin, like Heroes seniors Kim Ha-sung (San Diego Padres) and Lee Jung-hoo, is likely to advance to the U.S. Major League beyond the KBO League. Baseball experts are analyzing that Ahn Woo-jin’s pitching will work well in the big leagues. Of course, a gap of at least two years is inevitable if he undergoes surgery and solves military problems, but if he aims to advance to the Major League, the current choice could be a step back for two steps forward.

However, nothing has been decided yet regarding Ahn Woo-jin’s future schedule. An official from Kiwoom, who met at Gocheok on the 3rd, said, “An Woo-jin has just greeted the team and is taking a rest at home. First of all, surgery is first, so you have to find a hospital to undergo surgery. “There has been no discussion with the club about joining the military yet,” he said. Head coach Hong Won-ki also declined to say, “There is no time to think about it (resolving military service obligations).”

Meanwhile, Ahn Woo-jin said before being removed from the first-tier entry, “I’m sorry that I couldn’t be with you until the end of the season, and I’m sorry for the fans.”

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