“I don’t think it’ll be too much”. Confessing how you feel about eliminating the national team…Great Pitcher Succession Grows Up in A Week
He’s grown up in just a week. KIA Tigers’ Lee Yi-ri, 21, was at the center of the Hangzhou Asian Games controversy and suffered unwanted heartbreak and unintended growing pains.
Lee was included in the roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games, but was ultimately cut on Feb. 22. The team decided that the best performance was the standard and that Lee did not meet that standard. However, the decision sparked a swirl of controversy.
Lee was somewhat unfairly cut from the team. Lee was placed on the injured list in late August with a sore shoulder. This was followed by a blister on his left finger that prevented him from playing long innings. National team manager Ryu Joong-il kept a close eye on Lee’s condition, but on Aug. 21 against Hanwha in Daejeon, Lee took the loss after giving up five runs (four earned) on two hits, two walks, one hit batter and three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings. His replacement was later confirmed.굿모닝토토
“It’s unfortunate that Lee Yi-ri was the last pitcher to be replaced,” said Ryu Jung-il at the press conference after the team meeting. “I saw Lee Yi-ri get hit with a blister on his finger three days ago. The trainer in charge kept checking. A week later, I checked his finger, and on the 21st, when he started, I went to see him, and although the view is a little different, I saw the blister before he pitched, he pitched less than two innings that day, and then I saw the blister afterward,” he explained.
“Lee Yi-ri is the best left-handed pitcher in Korea. He was supposed to be the main player against Taiwan and Japan, but in my eyes, he wasn’t. I wondered if he could pitch more than 7-80 pitches as a starter with this blister. I thought about it a lot. I decided to replace him because I didn’t think he could throw more than 80 pitches.”
But Lee proved that the blisters were no longer a problem. On the 27th, about a week after the news broke that he was eliminated from the national team on the 22nd. He started the second game of a doubleheader against the NC Dinos at NC Park in Changwon and pitched a complete game, throwing 77 pitches with three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings. He proved himself to be healthy.
It’s been a heartbreaking week for Lee Yi-ri. He spoke calmly but did not hide his feelings of disappointment. “I heard the news (of being eliminated from the national team) through the club. It doesn’t feel good. I haven’t heard anything from the national team yet,” he said, adding, “It could be because I wasn’t good enough, or it could be because I was sick. But I was disappointed to hear the news from my club.”
He seemed to have established himself as the future left-handed ace of the national team, participating in both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). But the controversy has turned his national team pride into a hollow feeling. “I don’t think this controversy will ever go away in my life,” Lee said. It scarred him for life.
Still, Lee’s regret and hurt have made him more mature. “It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s a professional thing to not show it. If I keep thinking about it, it’s an embarrassment to the team and a minus for me. I have to show it in my results,” he said. “In a way, it’s also not good for my teammates who were selected to the national team. I think throwing well in a game is a plus for my teammates and for my teammates on the national team. We have to make sure we don’t talk about it in the future.”
KIA officials and fellow players sympathized with Lee’s pain and shared his anger. “My older brothers were also very upset. KT’s Ko Young-pyo and (I) Sung-beom said good things, saying, ‘It will be an experience to become a bigger player,'” Lee said.
For now, Lee will put the Asian Games behind him and dedicate himself to KIA. The team has an urgent fall baseball schedule. “It’s already in the past. I have to take care of the psychological part. I need to control my mind. I will focus on the remaining games,” Lee said emphatically.
The successor to Yang Hyun-jong, 35, has grown and matured immensely in the maelstrom of controversy. It’s been an unforgettable week for Lee.