It is definitely an opportunity for Bae Ji-hwan.

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop O’Neill Cruz will miss at least four months after undergoing ankle surgery.

With Cruise’s long-term departure, Bae Ji-hwan, who is bringing a fresh breeze to Pittsburgh’s infield and outfield, is expected to gain wider opportunities as a starting pitcher.

ESPN said on the 11th (hereinafter Korean time),메이저사이트 ‘Pittsburgh needs to see if it can continue its hot pace at the beginning of the season without O’Neal Cruz. Cruise had surgery today to fracture his left ankle and will be out for at least four months.”

Cruz sprained his left ankle the previous day in a home game against the Chicago White Sox, colliding with opposing catcher Sevi Zavala while running home in the bottom of the 6th inning. Cruise, who was lying on the spot with a painful expression, was eventually helped by a trainer and taken to the hospital for a checkup.

Cruise, who underwent an operation to connect the fractured part a day later, will have to rehabilitate until mid-August. Pittsburgh is not the only power loss due to Cruise’s departure.

Pittsburgh coach Derek Shelton said, “I’m more worried about Cruise’s health and mind than the power aspect. It’s fortunate that the injury isn’t more serious than that,” and “I feel relieved because the player himself seems to be fine.”

Pittsburgh put Cruz on the 10-day disabled list and called up utility man Mark Mathias from Triple-A. On the first day of the three-game home game against the Houston Astros, Rodolfo Castro was appointed as the shortstop.

Cruz is considered a key infielder along with third baseman Kibrian Hayes in Pittsburgh, which is rebuilding. Cruz, who stands out with his active play and strong fighting spirit, debuted in 2021 and played 87 games last year, and served as his first full-time season as the main shortstop this season.

With Cruise missing for more than four months, Bae Ji-hwan’s number of appearances as an infielder is expected to increase significantly. Coach Shelton said, “Castro will start at shortstop. Maybe sometimes, depending on the opponent’s matchup and the players’ rest days, Bae Ji-hwan may play shortstop.”

Bae Ji-hwan started 7 out of 10 games played by the team this season. He was named to the starting lineup for four games at second base and three each in center field. However, he was excluded from the starting batting order against Houston on this day.

An injury to his teammate is heartbreaking, but for a backup player or minor league prospect, it’s an opportunity you won’t get again.

The San Diego Padres’ Kim Ha-seong was able to evolve from a utility infielder to a starting pitcher last year thanks to Fernando Tatis Jr.’s injury and suspension from discipline. Tatis took an 80-game suspension last year for a wrist injury and drug use. Kim Ha-seong took the opportunity to become a full-time member by entering his main position, shortstop, and playing a key role throughout the offense and defense, and was able to rank second in the Gold Glove shortstop category.

Bae Ji-hwan is a utility man. Because he can see both the inside and the outfield, it is a starting role if there is a player who needs to rest during the start. So far, it is evaluated that he is doing his part throughout the airlift. Now, that opportunity is wider. It’s nothing more than a ‘God-sent opportunity’.

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