Now, the next actual match is the regular season. In fact, with the selection for the opening game confirmed, last year’s pitcher Golden Glove winner is looking at a higher place. Kiwoom Ace Ahn Woo-jin (24) enters the 2023 season with a more improved pitch.
Woojin Ahn threw 71 pitches in an exhibition match against LG at Gocheok Dome on the 26th, giving up 3 hits, 5 strikeouts and 1 run in 5 innings. He had a fast ball speed of 157 km per hour, an average speed of 154 km, and a slider speed of 145 km.
In the face of LG’s lineup with many left-handed hitters, he also used a changeup to Park Hae-min and Hong Chang-ki. In the 2nd inning, a slider thrown from 2nd out and 3rd base turned into a wild pitch, and he conceded a run, but from the 3rd inning, he finished pitching the day by facing only three batters in 3 consecutive innings. Kiwoom beat LG 4-2.
With this, Ahn Woo-jin finished the actual battle ahead of the regular season through three demonstration games. Unlike his last two exhibition games, he conceded a goal, but the result is not very meaningful. The important thing is the process, but the fastball, which is an advantage, has improved.
After pitching that day, An Woo-jin said, “It wasn’t my intention, but the vertical movement of the fastball improved. He improved by an average of 10 cm,” he said. The ball was formed higher than intended, but now I have a feeling. I threw it while looking at the position of the catcher’s catch lower than usual, and it seems to have an effect of improving the vertical movement.”
It’s not intentional, but it’s the result of getting rid of bad habits. Ahn Woo-jin said, “There are times when my arms spread too much to the side when pitching. I always pay attention to this part, and I have been trying to catch it since I was playing catch ball in the off season, but it seems that I can catch it naturally.” Compared to last year, it seems to throw more stably. I am trying to throw a stronger ball while throwing more comfortably, but I feel like I am getting better.”
On this day, Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki hinted at Ahn Woo-jin’s start for the opening game on April 1. When asked about the starting pitcher for the game against Hanwha at Gocheok Dome, he said, “An Woo-jin pitches today and takes a 5-day break.” He said, “I think he did a good job checking what he needs to do on the mound as the player envisions it at the start of the season.”
Not the first time. An Woo-jin also appeared as a starting pitcher in the opening match against Lotte in the 2022 season. In his first Opening Day start of his personal career, he gave up two runs in six innings. With his opening day good pitch, he rose to the top pitcher and also won the Golden Glove for the first time. For the first time in the history of the Heroes club, Ahn Woo-jin is about to start a native pitcher’s opening game for two consecutive years.
Regarding the case of starting the opening game for two consecutive years, An Woo-jin said, “I think it will be really honorable. I went to Chase Field during this Arizona camp, and every year the starting pitcher and lineup for the opening game are recorded. Seeing the name of Randy Johnson come out consistently, I felt the symbolism of starting the opening game again.”
The pitchers with the most opener appearances in Heroes’ history are Brandon Knight and Andy Van Hecken. Both started three opening games,먹튀검증 and An Woo-jin could surpass them in the near future. Like Randy Johnson, who made six Opening Day starts for Arizona, six for Seattle, and two Opening Day starts for the Yankees, he is emerging as the pitcher who represents the franchise and thinks of Opening Day.