In this EPA file photo from June 2, 2021, Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays (L) hits an RBI single against the New York Yankees in the top of the seventh inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Yankee Stadium in New York. (EPA-Yonhap)
The Tampa Bay Rays have activated their South Korean first baseman Choi Ji-man from the injured list (IL), following an 11-day stint with a groin injury.
Choi was in the starting lineup as the No. 3 hitter against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on Monday (local time). Choi had been placed on the IL on June 4, retroactive to the previous day, with a left groin strain.
"I am feeling great. I've had some rest, and built my body back up through training and practice games," Choi said in a pregame Zoom media session. He played in back-to-back games at the Rays' extended spring training site in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Friday and Saturday.
Choi opened the season on the IL after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. As he hit the IL for the second time, Choi said his surgically repaired right knee wasn't yet 100 percent and it might have contributed to issues on the left side of his lower body.
Choi said he will have to be careful with his right knee "all season long," and added he believes his trainers will take good care of him.
Choi was batting a robust .304/.448/.522 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 15 games at the time of his groin injury.
"I was disappointed that I had to be sidelined just when I was playing well, but it's already in the past," said Choi, who first tweaked his groin in a game and then aggravated it trying to leg out an infield hit the following day. "I am confident I can swing the bat well again."
Choi said he has been told to give his knee regular rest and noted how his knee felt better during his latest IL stay.
Choi went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout against the White Sox in a 5-2 victory. He has a .292/.452/.500 line in 16 games this year.
The Rays improved to 43-24, the best winning percentage in the majors. (Yonhap)