KBO club manager praises starter for keeping fort alive amid injuries

SEOUL, April 26 (Yonhap) — When the Doosan Bears signed former major league pitcher Robert Stock in January, there were concerns about the right-hander’s ability to dive deep in games as a starter.

Stock had mostly been a reliever in his minor-league and major-league careers over the past decade. But the Bears were betting the 32-year-old fire pitcher would have a lot to offer as a top starter in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

And this bet has paid off so far at the start. Stock is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his first four KBO starts. He struck out 23 in 25 1/3 innings. He threw more than 100 pitches in two of those four outings.

As strong as those numbers are, Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyoung said on Tuesday that he greatly appreciates how Stock has maintained the strong while the No. 1 starter and last year’s league MVP , Ariel Miranda, remained on the sidelines with shoulder problems. The Bears entered Tuesday’s game 11-8, tied for third place.

“With Miranda out, Stock did an amazing job for us,” Kim said before the Bears hosted the NC Dinos at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. “If he had struggled to get out of the gate, it would have been a really tough season for us. He’s been our ace so far.”

The stock came as advertised as a flamethrower. Prior to his departure on Tuesday, Stock had averaged 151.3 mph with his four-seam fastballs, the second-fastest in the KBO.

He was also able to maintain his speed late in games. In his most recent start, last Wednesday against the Kia Tigers, Stock was still throwing his fastballs in the middle of 150 in the seventh inning. His 113th and final throw of the day was clocked at 154 km/h.

“We had some concerns about whether he would be able to keep pitching hard late in the set,” Kim said. “It would be understandable if he ran out of gas on hot summer days. But even at the start of the season, we didn’t know if he would lose speed on his pitches after about the fifth inning. Until Now, he’s doing very well.”

Stock will have to keep doing what he’s been doing to help the Bears stay afloat, as the team received even more bad news from Miranda on Tuesday.

The Bears said Miranda was diagnosed with mild muscle damage to the back of his left shoulder after undergoing an MRI scan earlier in the day. He will be re-evaluated after resting for two weeks, and only then can the Bears schedule his rehabilitation.

Miranda had shoulder problems late last season and earlier this spring, but a Bears official said the damage was discovered in another area of ​​his shoulder.

The Bears demoted Miranda to the minors on Sunday after two wobbly outings, during which he walked a total of 12 batters in seven innings.

The Cuban southpaw was voted league MVP last year after leading the league with a 2.33 ERA and 225 strikeouts. That strikeout total was also a new single-season record.

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