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[Exclusive] Choo to Play for Team Korea for the 3rd Time

[Exclusive] Choo to Play for Team Korea for the 3rd Time

Posted September. 10, 2010 11:34,   


“Once you’re on Team Korea, your goal is winning.”

Choo Shin-soo, 27, outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, will play for the Korean national baseball team for the third time at the Guangzhou Asian Games in November.

He made his first appearance for the national team in 2000 at the World Youth Championship in Edmonton, Canada, while attending Busan High School. His teammates on that title-winning squad included current pros Lee Dae-ho (Busan Lotte Giants), Kim Tae-kyun (Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan), and Jeong Keun-woo (Incheon SK Wyverns).

Choo also played for Korea when it finished second in last year’s World Baseball Classic.

The Asian Games is Choo’s final opportunity to win a gold medal and get exempted from military service, so he is more determined than ever. U.S. media say that if Choo fails to win a gold medal in the Asiad, he will seek American citizenship.

The Dong-A Ilbo held an exclusive interview with Choo Thursday at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Southern California.

Choo complained of being in poor condition in his last game versus the Angels because of lack of sleep. He was sick and even vomited because of the food he ate in Koreatown near the stadium.

Choo went 0-6 with two walks in the 4-3 loss in 16 innings, lowering his season batting average to .289.

Dong-A: You’ve been named to the Korean national team for the Asian Games. How do you feel?

Choo: It’s an honor. It’s true that this tournament will decide whether I have to serve in the Korean military but since I`m also representing Korea, my top priority is to win. I want to show Korean baseball’s potential through victory.

Dong-A: This is your third selection to the national team and you`re expected to play an important role with Lee Dae-ho and Kim Tae-kyun.

Choo: Dae-ho and Tae-kyun won the (2000) World Youth Championship. We play perfectly if we work together. I called Dae-ho couple of times. I’m looking forward to training with people whom I want to see.

Dong-A: Is there a difference between the environments of the Korean national team, which has a pecking order, and Team USA?

Choo: It was very good in the World Baseball Classic. Senior players led us well and younger ones followed us well. (Pitcher Bong) Jung-keun especially lightened up the team’s mood. How can we forget our style since we’ve played in the U.S. for a long time?

Dong-A: You say you want to achieve the 20-20 mark (20 homers and 20 stolen bases) this season. What is harder, hitting homers or stealing bases?

Choo: Since 20-20 means achieving two different things simultaneously, I give it a high rating. I cannot say which one is easier.

Dong-A: Are you conscientious about records?

Choo: I was conscientious about them last year. This year, I’ve focused on every single game. Since the record is set once, it’s good if I have one but okay if I don’t.

Dong-A: In the majors, hitting 20 homers and 30 doubles are valued very highly. Are you a home run hitter or a middle distance hitter?

Choo: I’m not a home run hitter. Since I get hits, they lead to homers. If you’re a home run hitter, you should hit at least 30 in a season.

Dong-A: At spring training in March, you said you want to drive 100 runs in for the season.

Choo: Only a few players can achieve 100 RBIs per season. As the No. 3 hitter, I did set this goal but it became hard because I didn’t play for three weeks due to injury. Even after I returned, my hitting was disrupted and I gave up that goal.

Dong-A: What would you rather do, bat .300 or repeat your 20-20 feat?

Choo: “Of course .300.”

Choo was the lone player in the American League last season to hit .300 and join the 20-20 club.