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Nat'l team 2B Jeong Keun-woo to undergo knee surgery, WBC status in doubt

2016/11/15 14:19

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- National team second baseman Jeong Keun-woo will undergo knee surgery next week, putting his status for an upcoming international tournament in doubt, his professional club said Tuesday.

The Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Jeong will go under the knife next Tuesday to repair a damaged meniscus in his left knee. He is scheduled to have the operation in Japan, and the Eagles said the injury will likely require two to three months of rehab.

The news makes Jeong, a perennial All-Star, doubtful for the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) next March. The KBO announced the 28-man roster last Thursday, though it is still subject to change depending on injury situations or free agent signings. No hard deadline has been set for submission of the final roster, but the KBO expects it to fall sometime in February.

In this file phtoo taken on Sept. 20, 2016, Jeong Keun-woo of the Hanwha Eagles comes home after hitting a solo home run against the LG Twins in their Korea Baseball Organization game at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon. (Yonhap) In this file phtoo taken on Sept. 20, 2016, Jeong Keun-woo of the Hanwha Eagles comes home after hitting a solo home run against the LG Twins in their Korea Baseball Organization game at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon. (Yonhap)

Jeong, 34, is a career .303 hitter who has been one of the KBO's premium defensive second basemen. He enjoyed his best offensive season in 2016 at an age when most middle infielders struggle to put the ball in play. Jeong batted .310 while setting career-highs with 18 home runs, 88 RBIs, 121 runs scored, 178 hits and 31 doubles. He also swiped 22 bags, becoming the first KBO player to steal at least 20 bases in 11 consecutive seasons.

Jeong's absence will leave a big hole in the lineup, on the field and in the club house. Jeong has been a national team mainstay for a decade and was the captain of the team that captured the inaugural Premier 12 tournament last fall.

He was one of two second basemen on the national team this time, alongside Nexen Heroes' Seo Geon-chang, the 2014 KBO MVP.

Jeong is the second player from the WBC roster to opt for an offseason surgery. Doosan Bears' reliever Lee Yong-chan underwent surgery on Tuesday to remove a bone chip in his right elbow and is expected to miss up to six months of action.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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