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Landers ace Kim Kwang-hyun ready to bounce back after mediocre season

Kim Kwang-hyun of the Landers pitches against the Rakuten Monkeys during a scrimmage at Chiayi City Municipal Baseball Stadium in Chiayi City, Taiwan, in this file photo provided by the SSG Landers, March 6. Yonhle

Any way you cut it, SSG Landers starter Kim Kwang-hyun had a subpar 2023 season.The standard may be high for the 2008 MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and one-time St. Louis Cardinal. Still, a 9-8 record and a 3.53 ERA — 1.40 runs worse than in 2022 — just won’t cut it.Feeling as healthy as ever, the 35-year-old said he is ready for a bounceback performance in 2024.”I will absolutely do better than last year,” the left-hander told reporters Thursday at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, after coming home from spring training in Taiwan. “I’d love to win at least 15 games this season.” Kim last won 15 or more games in 2019, the year before he joined the Cardinals for a two-year stint in Major League Baseball. In his first season back in the KBO in 2022, Kim established a new career best with a 2.13 ERA over 173 1/3 innings.In 2023, Kim made 30 starts, two more than the previous year but threw five fewer innings at 168 1/3.

On Thursday, Kim beat himself up for not eating up more innings in 2023.”A starting pitcher has to throw as many innings as possible to give his team a chance to win games,” Kim said. “This year, I will try to average at least six innings per outing.”Kim did have extenuating circumstances for his so-so numbers in 2023, as he dealt with nagging shoulder pains. Kim said he feels much healthier now than a year ago.”The most important thing is to take care of my body,” Kim said. “Whenever I’ve been able to stay pain free, I’ve posted great numbers. For this spring training, I paid particularly close attention to my shoulder. I wouldn’t say I feel as good as I did in high school, but my shoulder is definitely better than last year.”Kim has won enough championship rings for each finger on one hand, and he now hopes to add one for the thumb on the other hand.”I want to win as many games as possible because I have to make up for last season,” he said. “I’ll try to win the last 안전 game of the season.”

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