Choo’s on-base pace may lead to All-Star bid

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Choo’s on-base pace may lead to All-Star bid

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Choo Shin-soo

As Major League Baseball’s All-Star ballot opened yesterday, Choo Shin-soo is well on the way to becoming the first Korean to be voted onto the team.

Choo reached base for the 34th straight game (including 13 games from last year) as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs, 1-0, in a home game on Tuesday. He had two hits in the game, his 12th multiple-hit performance in this season’s 21 games.

He is leading the National League in hitting with a .392 average and 31 hits. His .535 on-base percentage leads the major leagues.

Many say an All-Star appearance is a safe bet for the 30-year-old slugger if his performance holds up. Korea produced two All-Stars, Park Chan-ho (with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001) and Kim Byung-hyun (with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002), but the two pitchers were named to the team by managers. Choo never made the All-Star team when he played for the Cleveland Indians between 2006 and 2012 or with the Seattle Mariners between 2005 and 2006.

The All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field in New York on July 16. The AL and NL All-Star teams will be announced on July 7.

At Wednesday’s game, Todd Frazier gave Mat Latos all the run support he needed, and Latos gave the Reds exactly what they needed to finish off a 10-game homestand in style.

Latos retired the first 10 batters and 15 of the first 16 he faced and mostly spared an overworked bullpen, and Frazier hit a long home run in the Reds’ win.

“This is what we wanted so bad,” Reds manager Baker said. “This sets us straight for a couple of days.”

With one out in the sixth inning of a scoreless tie, Frazier blasted a 2-1 pitch from Jeff Samardzija 480 feet to straightaway center field to increase his team-leading home run total to six. The homer, which bounced high off the batter’s eye, is the longest at Great American Ball Park this season and the seventh-longest in the facility’s 11-year history.

“I was just trying to get a fastball,” said Frazier, who became the first Cincinnati player to homer in a 1-0 win since Sean Casey against St. Louis on Aug. 26, 2004. “I haven’t seen too many lately. I got one, and I took advantage of it. I took a couple of steps and figured it was out, but I didn’t know how far until I saw it hit the [batter’s eye].”

Latos (1-0), the victim of two blown saves among his first four starts this season, allowed four hits and a walk with four strikeouts. ?

“In the bullpen, I had a really good slider and changeup,” said Latos, who’s strung together 11 consecutive scoreless innings. “I don’t know what the hell happened. It’s tough. Everybody in the big leagues can hit the fastball. I had to focus on hitting spots, keeping the ball down and away and getting them to hit it on the ground.”

Jonathan Broxton replaced Latos with two runners on base and nobody out in the eighth. Both runners moved up on Cody Ransom’s sacrifice bunt, but pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano struck out and shortstop Zack Cozart went deep behind second base to flag down David DeJesus’s grounder and throw him out to end the inning.

“I was going to throw it regardless, because there were two outs,” Cozart said. “I saw out of the corner of my eye that he wasn’t too close to the bag. I’ve been struggling at the plate lately, so to make a play like that makes you feel pretty good.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said that’s just the way it’s been going for the Cubs, who are 1-5 on their current road trip.

“That was an unbelievable play in that situation,” he said.


By Moon Gwang-lip, AP [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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