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Choi Decorates His ML Debut with Double

Posted April. 01, 2003 22:31,   


A rookie in the Major League is called a cup of coffee.

As literally implied, the phrase means that it is a piece of cake to handle rookies like drinking a cup of coffee. That does not seem always true. Hee S. Choi, Chicago Cubs` rookie first baseman, had the capacity of "ten cups of coffee."

In the season opener against New York Mets, an away for the Cubs, he demonstrated "seasonedness": sharp eye to calmly distinguish out balls and strikes, "luxury" of giving pep talks to his teammates, and victory over the opponent pitcher. In a season opener where even veteran players got nervous, he played calmly and excellently.

Choi, who got struck out in the first with a runner on the third base, stood at bat first in the third. He punched a long double into the left. It was meaningful since the pitcher was Cy Young winner Glavine and since it came out in his first sortie in the season opener.

Then, Corey Patterson`s hit brought him home. By this time, Mets were leading the game 4-2. In the fourth, he got popped out. Then, in sixth and seventh, he advanced to the first on walks, which led to his homing in. In the ninth, he got struck out, recording one for four, and three runs. It was handsome for a rookie`s debut, and Cubs manager Baker lauded him.

Corey Patterson finished with two home runs and seven RBIs, and Kerry Wood defended the mound, giving the Chicago Cubs a 15-2 romp over the embarrassed New Yorkers. It was the most-lopsided opener in the major leagues since the Chicago White Sox beat up the St. Louis Browns 17-3 on April 17, 1951.

Yesterday was the real season opening day for the whole major leagues, since only one game took place on Sunday. Thus, each team mobilized its prized pitcher, but the results were surprising.

Nomo of L.A. Dodgers pitched through all nine innings, and shut out the game against Arizona Diamondbacks Randy Johnson, who won National League`s Cy Young Award. On the other hand, Johnson got a loser, ending his "five season opener" winning streak, which continued since 1992.

Mets Tom Glavine allowed five runs and eight hits in almost four innings, and Greg Maddux of Atlanta Braves gave up nine hits and four runs in seven innings despite his renowned ball control.

New York Yankees Roger Clemens, who has become 40 this year, shut out six innings against Toronto Blue Jays, demonstrating his "fitness." In this game, Japanese Major Leaguer Hiddeki Matsui recorded one hit and brought one runner home. A violent collision left All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter dislocated in the left shoulder, possibly putting him on the disabled list for more than two weeks.

Atlanta Braves Bong took the mound in 9th, with the game led by Montreal Expos 8-2, allowed three hits and two runs.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com