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Former Major Leaguer Choi renews commitment in last year of baseball career

Former Major Leaguer Choi renews commitment in last year of baseball career

Posted March. 03, 2015 07:28,   


Many fans of the Kia Tigers regard Choi Hee-sup, 36, as "the boy who cried wolf." To some extent, he earned the nickname by himself. Over the past several years, Choi would repeatedly say in interviews in early days of each year, “I will do my best, thinking that this year is the last year of my baseball career.” However, he has never kept his pledge at the end of seasons. He sometimes closed a season early due to injuries and personal reasons. He even failed to play a single game last year. It seemed Choi, Korea’s first Major League hitter, was concluding his baseball career just like that.

In stark contrast to his large physique, Choi has tender heart. He easily gets hurt even for small conflict and often gives up if things do not go as he wishes. Hence, he would often choose to quit baseball in the past. “Choi has had physical illness, but he has suffered even more in his mind. This year, he looks much more cheerful probably because he has dumped many of his ambitions. In years, he has adapted himself to the team so well this year," said a Kia official.

Choi was the only veteran player who joined the wrap-up training camp conducted in Miyazaki, Japan late last year. He voluntarily participated in the camp. He has completed all training sessions through this year’s spring camp for four months. Despite back pain, he played exercise matches in the final days of the camp. “If I were me of the past, I would give up early, and choose to return home,” Choi said smiling.

Analysts say that Kia ranks among the lowest in terms of players’ capacity this year. While many players have exited as Ahn Chi-hong and Kim Sun-bin joined the military, its player lineup has hardly been supplemented. Kia must have tried its best in trainings, but it lost all of the nine exercise games between Korea and Japan it played in Okinawa, Japan. The team allowed as many as 103 runs in the nine games.

One element that could offset its poor capacity is spiritual mood within the team. Choi is at the center of the upbeat mood. Choi has completed the entire training sessions for now. Kia Manager Kim Ki-tae said, “Hee-sup’s joining the entry members, without injuries, holds significance to the team in itself.” Choi said, “When I wanted to quit baseball, I discovered the coach and teammates standing by me. I have received so many things from them, and now I want to achieve something for them.”

Choi is standing at the starting point with his teammates for the first time in years. When he continues to stay with his teammates at the last game of the season, his fans would understand his sincerity.