Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop, who helped Jang Won-jun (38) extend his playing career so that he could burn his last flame, expressed his gratitude to his protégé who is leaving the field without regret.
On March 28, Doosan announced, “132-win pitcher Jang Won-jun is saying goodbye to the professional mound where he has spent 20 years. The player recently announced his intention to retire from active duty to the club,” officially announcing the retirement of the 1985-born veteran.
Jang was a key player in the Doosan dynasty. In 2015, the first year of his four-year, 8.4 billion won free agent contract, Jang went 12-12 with a 4.08 ERA in 30 games to become the first “V4” pitcher in 14 years, and the following year, he went 15-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 27 games as part of the “Fantastic Four” to lead the team to the title. With 14 wins in 2017, Jang reached 10 wins for the eighth consecutive year, dating back to 2008 when he was with Lotte.
In his fourth year with Doosan, Jang was plagued by unexplained slumps and injuries. After going 3-7 with a 9.92 ERA in 24 games in 2018, he was limited to six games in 2019 and two games in 2020, which really hurt the ace’s pride. A shocking 12.71 ERA in two games in 2020 pushed him to the brink of retirement.
Facing the prospect of retirement after the 2022 season, Jang Won-jun met with new manager Lee Seung-yeop in October last year and expressed his desire to extend his career. Sensing the player’s desperation, Lee said, “We lack a left-handed pitcher, so I want him to play a role. It would be a dishonor for a pitcher with 129 wins to try out for another team and if it doesn’t work out. I’m not asking him to quit if he has no intention of retiring,” he said.
The first half of Jang’s career was dubbed the Romantic Baseball. The pitcher, who went winless for four years from 2019 to last year, had a three-game winning streak starting in late May. The highlight was the first game of the season on May 23 against Jamsil Samsung Electronics. He took over for foreign pitcher Dylan Pyle and pitched five innings of seven-hit ball, striking out four and walking none to earn the victory, his first win in five years. 무지개토토
In his first start in 958 days since October 7, 2020 against SK (now SSG), Jang Won-jun recorded his first win in 1,844 days since May 5, 2018 against LG Electronics, becoming the 11th player in history and the fourth left-hander to reach 130 career wins. He also surpassed Hanwha’s Song Jin-woo (34 years, 4 months, 18 days) as the oldest left-hander to reach 130 wins at 37 years, 9 months, 22 days. Including right-handed pitchers, he is the second oldest 130-win pitcher ever, behind KIA’s Lim Chang-yong (42 years, 3 months, 25 days).