KIA Tigers’ Mario Sanchez (29) will finally return to the first team. He’s going straight from a Futures League appearance.
“Sanchez is thinking about starting on Thursday (21) against Daejeon Hanwha,” KIA head coach Kim Jong-kook said before the team’s home game against the Doosan Bears at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on Sunday.
Sanchez, who joined the Kia uniform midseason as a substitute foreign player, made his debut on July 9. He had a strong outing against the KT Wiz, allowing one run on five hits (one home run) in 6⅓ innings with 10 strikeouts, and improved to 4-2 with a 5.28 ERA in eight games.
Despite his recent ups and downs, Sanchez showed his “outside hitter” side once again on May 25 against the Hanwha with seven innings of two-hit ball, one walk, six strikeouts and one earned run to pick up his fourth win of the season, before being sidelined with elbow soreness.
After being told he would need about three weeks of rehabilitation, he pitched out of the bullpen on the 14th and was able to take the next step without any pain.
Kia manager Kim Jong-guk explained, “I think we need to check the situation after the live pitch to see if he can play.”
The plan is to hold a live pitching session on the 17th and check for pain again. If there is no pain, he will pitch against Hanwha on the 21st.
However, as he is still unable to pitch long innings, he will pitch as a 1+1 pitcher with Lee Yi-ri. Lee has also been resting recently due to a blister on his finger. “It’s hard for (Lee) to carry a lot of pitches,” Kim said.
Sanchez is up to 60 pitches. “He can only go on that schedule if he doesn’t have pain after live pitching,” Kim said.
For KIA, Sanchez’s return is welcome.
KIA is in fourth place with 60 wins, 2 losses, and 55 draws before a three-game losing streak in the last 16 days. They have no points between them and fifth-place SSG (62 points, 메이저사이트 2 draws, 57 games) and Doosan (62 points, 1 draw, 57 games).
With a fierce battle for the top spot, there is a gap in the pitching staff as Lee Yi-ri will be traveling with the national team to the Hangzhou Asian Games on the 23rd.
While it’s not a “full” roster, Sanchez comes in when they need him most.