“It doesn’t hurt. You prepared well”

KT Wiz right-handed relief pitcher Park Si-young has entered into a fight against himself. He focused on rehabilitation after the surgery, but the gap has gradually lengthened. He is finally preparing to return this year.

Having joined the Lotte Giants as the 31st ranking member in the second and fourth rounds in 2008, Park made his debut in the first division in 2010. He joined the KT through trade in 2021. In the same year, he garnered 3 wins and 3 losses with 12 holds and an earned run average of 2.40, in 48 games and 45 innings. He accumulated double-digit holds for the first time since his debut. He also garnered his first appearance in the Korean Series. He garnered one hold by allowing no runs in ⅔ innings in one game. He contributed to his team’s first integrated win in the championship, having the best season in his career.

“When I was working at Lotte, I used a splitter as a crystal ball. After coming to KT, I became more active in using sliders with good control,” Park said. “I used them to use them as crystal balls or to get ball counts. Manager (Lee Kang-chul) and coaches discovered this for me. That had a big impact.”

“At that time, the coaches and coaches told me that I should throw a lot of pitches with a high strike rate. The middle pitcher told me to use good pitches actively on that day because I don’t have to throw many pitches like a starter,” he added.

“I thought things would be as solid as I thought. The year 2022 was a nightmare. On May 12, he pitched as relief pitcher against the KIA Tigers and collapsed complaining of pain. A thorough examination revealed that he has damaged ligaments and bones in his elbow. After agonizing over rehabilitation and surgery, he finally decided to undergo surgery.

He intended to return to the team for the second half of last year. His elbow injury was not perfect and the team failed. He let go of another season. “I prepared everything in anticipation of call-up for the first team in the second half. However, I felt slight discomfort and my performance is 100 percent only when I have no pain,” Park said. “Even if I join the first team, I would not be able to help my team. I decided to spend more time after discussing with my training part because I wanted to return to the team after perfecting my body.”

“I had to recover not only my body but also my mind,” Park said. “I had already been rehabilitating for a year and made a comeback schedule, but now that I have a long rehabilitation period, I have to slow down again. Still, I kept thinking, ‘Let’s make it better next year, not just this year. Let’s work hard and do well next year.’ “

I kept drawing the pitching form in my head. Assuming that I was standing on the mound, I trained myself thinking that I was pitching. “I wanted to do that because I couldn’t really feel the sense of the game,” Park said. “I’ve been watching videos of myself when I was good. I sometimes saw myself when I wasn’t good at it.”

“All the trainers took care of me. They asked me how I was doing,” Park Si-young said. “He kept saying things like, ‘The ball has gotten better’ and ‘It’s good to see.’ I was able to be confident because I thought my skills hadn’t deteriorated much compared to before I was hurt.”

This year, the team normally joined the Busan captain’s spring camp of the first team. “Rehabilitation requires more individual exercise time than group training. It’s really fun to come to the camp and hang out with the players and play baseball,” Park smiled.

He is in good physical condition. “It’s almost the same as before. Everywhere I feel better now. I’m participating in training normally,” Park said. “I think my pace is improving as I thought.” It’s my first camp at KT and it’s been a while since I’ve had a group workout, so I don’t want to overreact. The coaches and coaches told me not to overdo my training parts, too,” Park said.

He successfully completed his first bullpen session on Saturday. “I threw about 60-70 percent of the balls. My arm and pitching sense were good for the first time,” Park said. “My shots were similar to when I was in good shape. My tunneling was almost constant as well.” “I threw 21 pitches, and I was satisfied with my performance.”

“Honestly, even now, I have anxiety such as ‘what if I get sick again’ and ‘what if I don’t get my old ball power?’ But since I’ve been preparing well, I try to believe that the results will come along,” he said. “The top priority is to make the best condition possible.”

There are many good resources such as Son Dong-hyun and Lee Sang-dong, veteran Woo Kyu-min who became his new family through the second draft, and compensation player Moon Yong-ik for Kim Jae-yoon who transferred to the Samsung Lions in free agency. All of them are competitors. “KT has always had a good pitching staff. I will do my best not to fall behind in the competition,” Park said. “I have no pressure.”

There is only one goal for this year. “I hope I don’t get sick. I hope my performance will be similar to the past or better,” Park said. “Either the result will be good or bad. I want to go in the best direction possible. I want to see my fans at the baseball stadium.”

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