Choo hits one out of the park with AL honor

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Choo hits one out of the park with AL honor


Choo Shin-soo

A monster week for Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians netted the Korea-born fielder the American League’s Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career.

After a slow start to the season, 27-year-old Choo tore through six games last week, hitting .579 including three home runs, 11 RBIs, a 1.211 slugging percentage and a .680 on-base percentage. The right fielder recorded an impressive 11 hits in 19 at-bats, and is at the top of a seven-game hitting streak as the Indians ride a four-game run.

It’s not just the statistics that are impressive. Choo came through in clutch situations with runners in scoring position.

In the April 16 game against the Texas Rangers, Choo smashed a three-run homer in the eighth inning as his team trailed 0-2.

Two days later, he delivered the game-winning run with a double against the Chicago White Sox.

The following day, Choo hit his second career grand slam and collected five RBIs to help the Indians to a 7-4 win.

“I feel like I played this way in spring training,” Choo said in a post-game interview. “I didn’t put pressure on myself [in the spring]. The first three or four games, I put pressure on myself. But I talked to some guys and the hitting coach [John Nunnally], and they told me not to worry too much. I’m trying to see the ball and hit the ball.”

Choo won the AL Player of the Month honor in September 2008 for hitting .400 with five home runs and 24 RBIs, but this is the first time he has been named the league’s best player of the week.

Choo has improved his season numbers to .350, four home runs, 12 RBIs and three stolen bases. He also rose to the top-ranked player in the latest edition of the ESPN Top 100 players list. The system compiles player rankings from four sources including Elias Sports Bureau and the Baseball Encyclopedia. Some of the other top players on the list include Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Considering that Choo finished last season ranked 28th in the top 100 list, he’s in superb form, and the national team’s coaching staff and technical committee has to be pleased with Choo’s production of late. Korea is expected to field its best team for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games on Nov. 12-27. If Choo should win a gold medal in Guangzhou, he could get exempted from the two-year mandatory military service and focus on his career in the Major Leagues.

Cleveland currently sits at third place in the AL Central Division, with six wins and six losses.

By Jason Kim []
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