“Hitters, no pressure,” says Yang Hyun-jong, unconcerned about waiting lists
Yang Hyun-jong (35-KIA Tigers) holds the Tigers’ franchise records for most wins (161), most strikeouts (1858) and most innings pitched (2205 and two-thirds). All three categories rank among the top three all-time.
We asked Yang which record he is most attached to before the 24th game against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon. “The most important thing for me since I was younger (in the professional ranks) was to play a lot of innings,” Yang said without hesitation. “When Lee Kang-chul (KT Wiz) was the pitching coach of KIA, he taught me that ‘starting pitchers should be responsible for many innings,’ and the senior pitchers told me the same thing. I have the desire to pitch more innings,” he said.스포츠토토
Yang has gone seven innings or more in four of his seven games this season. Against the Gwangju Kiwoom Heroes on the 21st, he was shaky in the top of the seventh inning, giving up a run and throwing more than 100 pitches. Kia manager Kim Jong-kook said, “Even when he’s not winning, he doesn’t give up his innings.”
As of the 25th, Yang is tied with Jung Min-cheol (MBC Sportsplus commentator) for second place in the ‘most career wins’ category (161). He needs one more win to take sole possession of second place. The record holder is Song Jin-woo (former Hanwha coach) with 210 wins.
Yang isn’t overly concerned with the number of wins, though. “It’s a combination of things,” he says. My form has to be good, the batsmen have to be batting well, and the fielding has to be solid. You have to be lucky. You can’t do it on your own,” he said. He believes that playing so many innings in every game is the reason why he has over 160 career wins.
Yang would love to break the record for most wins. However, like Innings, he is not “greedy” about it. “Arithmetically, I need to consistently win more than 10 games over the next few years to reach Song Jin-woo’s record (210). I don’t have the impatience to say, ‘I’m going to do it,’ because it’s not right in front of me.”
For Yang, the 162nd win is a milestone. The KIA batters seem to be aware of this. In Yang’s last two starts, the bats have frozen. In the 12 and one-third innings he’s been on the mound, they haven’t scored a run. “The batters know from the media that (Yang) can be second on the all-time wins list,” said Kim Jong-kook. If he thinks, ‘I have to win,’ he might be more rigid at the plate.”
Yang apologises. He feels like his record is affecting the performance of his teammates. “I don’t mind if I don’t get a few more wins, but my teammates seem to be conscious of it. I hope they don’t feel any pressure,” he said, but then laughed, “If that’s an unavoidable problem, I think the best way is for me to add one win sooner rather than later, and I hope it’s soon.”
Yang will play the second game of a three-game weekend series against the LG Twins at home (Gwangju-Kia Champions Field) on the 27th. As of the 25th, the team is leading the league in batting average (0.291). Yang gave up three runs in five innings against LG on the 28th of last month.