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New Ranger Choo itching to get going for new season

Jan. 15, 2014 - 19:08 By Korea Herald
Choo Shin-soo and his family at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday (Yonhap News)
INCHEON (Yonhap News) ― Leaving home on Wednesday to begin his first season with the Texas Rangers, Choo Shin-soo said he’s itching to get his offseason training underway.

Speaking to reporters at Incheon International Airport, the South Korean outfielder said he is a little behind in his training schedule after a whirlwind of activities at home.

“I’ve spent about two weeks here and I don’t even know how the time has gone by,” said Choo, who has made a series of corporate and charity appearances here. “I am starting my training about 15 days later than usual, and I’d like to get going quickly.”

Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers last month, becoming the highest-paid Asian player in the big league history.

The 31-year-old enjoyed his most productive season in 2013. In his lone season with the Cincinnati Reds, Choo ranked second in the National League in on-base percentage (.423), walks (112) and runs scored (107). All marks were his career-highs. Choo also put together his third 20-20 season with 21 homers and 20 steals.

These solid numbers led to a big pay day with Texas, where Choo will mostly bat leadoff and play left field.

Position players for the Rangers will report to the spring training on Feb. 19 in Arizona, and will have their first workout the following day. Choo said he will report to the camp even before that so he can gel with his new teammates early.

In Cincinnati last year, Choo became the full-time leadoff man for the first time in his career, and shifted from right field to center field on defense. Advanced metrics rated him among the worst outfielders in all of baseball, but Choo has said he’s confident he can make adjustments in left field.

Choo led all of baseball by getting hit by 26 pitches. He said he doesn’t want to get nailed so often this year.

“If I can maintain my focus on each and every pitch, I am sure I can put up good numbers this year, too,” Choo said. “The goal this year is to win the World Series. We have a great team this year.”