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Choi Hee-seop’s Career at Crossroads

Posted March. 28, 2006 08:25,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00

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Choi Hee-seop (27), recently traded to the Boston Red Sox from the Los Angeles Dodgers, is currently blocked by Boston first basemen Kevin Youkilis and J.T. Snow. Choi is expected to start the season in the minor leagues.

In the World Baseball Classic held earlier this month, Korean national team manager Kim In-shik (Hanhwa) commented on Choi’s situation, saying, “If that’s where he is now, he will be in a tough spot this season.”

Kim also compared Choi with Korean slugger Lee Seung-yeop. “They’re both sluggers and talented ones at that. But Lee has something intangible on his side, which makes a difference. Lee studies pitchers and decides whether he wants to push or pull his contact zone. Choi swings at a zone near his body even when he knows that he can’t meet the speed of the ball,” observed Kim.

When Kim called Choi into his office and gave him the advice, Choi responded by saying that although Kim’s advice contains some truth, he learned differently in the major leagues.

For years, Korean experts have poked holes in Choi’s swing. Choi’s response always was, “I’m the only Korean hitter playing in the major leagues.” That ego was part of what made him the first-ever Korean major league hitter.

But Lee Seung-yeop endured a similar situation after a disappointing first season in Japanese pro baseball in 2004. The difference between Choi and Lee is that Lee studied the styles of Japanese batters and benchmarked what they were doing right.

What Choi needs now is a similarly open mind. We hope his three-run homer on March 14 in Korea’s WBC game against the U.S. was a turning point in his career.



uni@donga.com