The full recovery of Lin Hung-yu, Shih Chih-wei and Kuo Yen-wen from injuries that took them out of the Lamigo Monkeys lineup has put the Monkeys’ fans in a positive mood about the league’s upcoming second half.
The heart of the order for the defending champs, who have been plagued by injuries since the start of the season, has finally returned to action after a long spring that saw their record drop from a respectable 5-7 in the first dozen games to a dismal 17-31 mark through Wednesday.
“It’s hard to win in a competitive environment such as ours without healthy players,” Monkeys skipper Hung Yi-chung said earlier this week.
His troops have not won back-to-back games since early last month, with their longest winning streak for the season a lowly three, which they only managed to do once.
It has been a while since the defending champs have fared as poorly as the Monkeys have over the course of six months.
Even though the first-half title may be out of the question for the Primates, the outlook for the second half remains fairly bright, with the return of the bashing trio, as well as the possible return of cleanup man Lin Chih-sheng and lefty specialist Chen Guan-ren by early next month. Once the offense is healthy, it should be able to deliver the run support that has been sorely missed by a pitching staff that has no starters with an earned run average (ERA) under four runs.
“I believe the worst has passed,” Hung said in a pre-game interview last weekend.
He will put the Monkeys offense to the test right away with a three-game home stand against the top-ranked EDA Rhinos, who have struggled a bit in their own right with a losing record (4-6) in their last 10 games through Wednesday.
Hung said there is nothing more enjoyable than sweeping a series against the popular Rhinos, who need to take the weekend series to keep their quickly shrinking lead in the standings over the second-placed Uni-President Lions.
The Rhinos have seen their lead over the Lions halved in the past seven games and they look to finish strong in the remaining 10 first-half games to win the half outright.
Regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s play, the fans in northern Taiwan are by far the biggest winners, because they will be making visits to either the Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City or the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium to cheer their favorite teams.