Tampa Bay’s Choi Ji-man joins 10-day IL with ankle injury

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Tampa Bay’s Choi Ji-man joins 10-day IL with ankle injury

The best Major League Baseball (MLB) season of Choi Ji-man’s career will be interrupted by a stint on the injured list (IL).

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Choi Ji-man

The Korean first baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays was placed on the 10-day IL with a left ankle strain Wednesday (local time). Choi has been hobbled by ankle and groin problems in recent days.

The 28-year-old journeyman is batting .266/.351/.423 in 70 games with nine home runs and 33 RBIs. He has already set a career high in RBIs and is one shy of matching his single-season best in home runs. Choi, who was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Rays last summer, has also established career highs in games played, runs scored (28), hits (64), total bases (102) and walks (30).

The Rays may have decided to give Choi some rest heading into the All-Star break next week because they’re facing four left-handed pitchers in their final five games of the first half. Choi, who bats left-handed, has struggled against southpaws this year, with a .205/.294/.273 line, one home run and three RBIs in 44 at-bats.

If Choi returns to action on July 13 when he becomes eligible, he will only have missed six games, thanks to the All-Star break.

From the Korean contingent of five in MLB this year, Choi is the second player on the IL. Colorado Rockies’ reliever Oh Seung-hwan has been on the IL since June 10, retroactive to June 7, with a left abdominal strain.

Choi signed with the Seattle Mariners out of high school in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2016 that he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut - with a different club.

He played in 54 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, though an oft-forgotten footnote from Choi’s career shows that he had signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent in November 2015. The Angels selected him in the Rule 5 draft less than a month later and gave him his first major league gig.

Then, in 2017, Choi appeared in six games for the New York Yankees. The following season, Choi played in a dozen games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 while splitting his time between the bigs and Triple-A. In June, Milwaukee shipped him to Tampa, where Choi began producing at a level that could justify an extended stay in the majors.

In 49 games with the Rays, Choi batted .269/.370/.506 with eight homers, 12 doubles and 27 RBIs.

Ahead of this season, for the first time in his career, Choi was invited to spring training for the first time and has been consistently playing for the Rays.

Yonhap

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