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Choo Shin-soo hopes to join winning club

A year away from free agency in Major League Baseball, South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians said Thursday he’d like to “play for a winning ball club.”

Upon returning home from the 2012 major league season earlier in the day, Choo said at a press conference here that if he could choose a team, he would go with a title contender.

“I grew up winning championships since I was young and I am used to winning,” the 30-year-old said. “And it’s been disappointing to go through the same thing in the past three years (with the Indians missing the playoffs). I would like to play for a strong team that contends for the championship.”
Cleveland Indians outfielder Choo Shin-soo (right) poses with Lotte Hotel CEO Song Yong-dok after being named a goodwill ambassador for Lotte Hotel during a ceremony in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Cleveland Indians outfielder Choo Shin-soo (right) poses with Lotte Hotel CEO Song Yong-dok after being named a goodwill ambassador for Lotte Hotel during a ceremony in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

Choo, the only South Korean in the majors, bounced back this year after an injury-plagued 2011 season, during which he was also arrested for drunk-driving charges.

This year, Choo played in 155 games, most since 2009, and batted .289 with 16 home runs, 67 RBIs and 21 steals. In 2011, a year after he put up his second straight season with at least 20 homers and 20 steals, Choo only managed eight home runs and 12 steals in 85 games with a .259 average.

Despite Choo’s contribution, the Indians ended fourth among five clubs in the American League Central, with 68 wins and 94 losses. Manager Manny Acta was fired in late September with six games remaining in the season.

The Indians led the division in June, but went 24-53 in the second half. They suffered 24 losses in August, tying the franchise record for defeats in a month. The Tribe, who also went through a second-half swoon in 2011, haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007.

Though he came up shy of a 20-20 season, Choo set career highs with 88 runs scored and 43 doubles, which placed him fifth in the American League.

The solid season should go a long way toward raising his stock with free agency looming after the 2013 season. Choo made $4.9 million this season and could be in for a big pay day, especially with uber-agent Scott Boras representing him. (Yonhap News)
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