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Choi Ji-man, Ryu Hyun-jin to face each other in American League East

Choi Ji-man, Ryu Hyun-jin to face each other in American League East

Posted January. 23, 2020 07:32,   

Updated January. 23, 2020 07:32


“(Ryu) Hyun-jin has achieved so much while I still have a long way to go,” said Tampa Bay outfielder Choi Ji-man. “I’m sure he’ll look after me.” The 28-year-old spoke humorously about how he feels about encountering Ryu Hyun-jin in the American League (AL) East. Choi, however, was serious when asked about his plans this season. “I’m determined to make a hit when at bat, whether it is a fastball or a change-up,” he said.

It will be an even more exciting season for Major League Baseball (MLB) fans. Two South Korean baseball players, who graduated from Dongsan High School in Incheon, will play in the top baseball league in the world. Choi will face Ryu Hyun-jin, 33, in the AL East as Ryu signed with Toronto Blue Jays this season. The two teams will play against each other 19 times during the regular season.

Five years into the big league, Choi achieved great results last season. He planted himself as Tampa Bay’s first base man, posting a career-high batting average of 0.261, 19 home runs, 63 RBIs in 127 matches. His team advanced to the postseason in six years since 2013 as a wild card. When asked if it was better-than-expected results, Choi said, “It is the opposite. I think we could’ve won the AL East if our hitters had not been injured. Personally, it’s a shame that I didn’t achieve 20 home runs.”

Before entering a new season, Choi expressed his hope of participating at the Tokyo Olympics. “When I sent Coach Kim Kyung-mun New Year’s greetings, he told me he wants me on the national baseball team,” Choi said. “I want to play wearing the national team uniform before I retire.” Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely for Choi to wear the uniform since the MLB does not allow its players to participate at the Olympics.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com