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KBO: Veteran Pitcher Cha Woo-Chan Announces Retirement

 Leif Skodnick  |    Aug 18th, 2023 8:28am EDT

Cha Woo-chan of South Korea pitches in the eighth inning during the round one of baseball team competition match between Team Dominican Republic and Team South Korea on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 01, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Veteran pitcher Cha Woo-chan announced his retirement after 18 seasons due to shoulder problems, journalist Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News Agency an English news media based in South Korea reported on Thursday.

Cha has a 112-79 record in the KBO with a lifetime ERA at 4.51, and appeared in 457 games, throwing 1,668.2 innings and allowing 1,676 hits, 197 home runs, 736 walks, and 1,413 strikeouts including a 1.445 WHIP.

Cha was the seventh overall pick in the 2005 KBO Draft to the Samsung Lions, and was with the Lotte Giants in the KBO Futures League during the 2023 season, only making one appearance. Cha hasn’t played in the Korean Baseball Organization since 2021 when he was with the LG Twins. 

During the 2021 regular season, Cha went 2-1 with a 5.24 ERA starting in five games throwing 22.1 innings allowing 13 earned runs, two home runs, 13 walks, and striking out 12 batters. 

In the 2020 season, and his fourth year with the LG Twins, Cha threw 64 innings in 13 games with a 5-5 record and a 5.34 ERA, allowing 71 hits, 38 earned runs, eight home runs, 28 walks, and 51 strikeouts.  

During his 10 seasons with the Samsung Lions from 2006-2016, Cha was a key component for their pitching staff as a swingman splitting time between the starting rotation and their bullpen eating up crucial innings when they won four consecutive championships in the Korean Series from 2011-2015. 

In the 2016 season, signed with the LG Twins and recorded 40 wins during his four-year contract. He re-signed with the LG Twins in 2021 and would make the Korea national team roster for the Olympics due to his performance during the KBO season prior to the league’s two-week hiatus for the Tokyo games. 

Cha has not appeared in a regular season game in the KBO since July 5, 2021, prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics. He underwent a shoulder operation after returning from the Olympics. 

In the Olympics, Cha threw two innings out of the bullpen in four games, allowing two hits, no earned runs, one walk, and striking out two batters, losing to the Dominican Republic in the bronze medal game at Yokohama Stadium. 

Cha also pitched for Korea in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic. 

Cha helped Korea win the gold medal at the 2015 Premier 12, where they beat the United States in the gold medal game 8-0 in the Tokyo Dome. 

Cha has also played for Korea when they won gold over Chinese Taipei at the 2014 Asian Games, and helped Korea reach the gold medal game in the 2019 Premier 12, losing to Japan 5-3 in the Tokyo Dome. 

Placing second in the 2019 Premier 12 along with playing in the gold medal game helped the Korean national team accomplish their fourth appearance in the Olympics. 

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated Cha was the sixth overall pick in the 2005 KBO Draft. He was the seventh overall pick in that draft, and the story has been corrected to reflect that.

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Leif Skodnick