|Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo (right) poses with Kim Jin-sun, head of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics organizing committee, after being named a goodwill ambassador for the Winter Games in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap News)|
Major League Baseball outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers on Monday was named a goodwill ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
At a press conference, Choo said he was proud that his home country will host its first Winter Olympics and that he was honored to take on “such a large role” to help promote the occasion.
“Once I return to the United States, I will try to promote the PyeongChang Winter Olympics among people who are close to me,” Choo said. “I think I can start with my Rangers teammates and go from there.”
Choo joins popular South Korean author Lee Oi-soo, ballerina Kang Sue-jin and string ensemble Sejong Soloists as goodwill ambassadors.
He’s the first athlete on the list of these ambassadors. Choo said he gladly accepted the offer to help promote PyeongChang even though he plays a summer sport, so that he could help put his native land on the map.
“I went to the U.S. at a young age (after high school), and it really hurt me at the time when people said they didn’t know much about my country,” Choo recalled. “People either didn’t know about South Korea, and those that did hardly said good things about it.
I’d like to think that I’ve helped change the perception by playing in the majors. From afar, I’ve been hoping to promote my home country.”
Choo recently signed a seven-year, $130 million free agent contract with the Texas Rangers. He enjoyed his most productive big league season with the Cincinnati Reds in 2013, ranking second in the National League in on-base percentage (.423), walks (112) and runs scored (107), while putting up his third-career 20-20 season with 21 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
With the Rangers, Choo is expected to bat leadoff and shift over from center to left field on defense. Choo’s manager Ron Washington has said he likes the South Korean’s versatility and that he could be placed at any spot in the lineup and in the outfield.
Looking ahead to his first season with the new club, Choo said his primary goal is to keep playing as many games as he can.
“My goal has always been to stay healthy enough to play 150 to 155 games (out of 162 games) each season,” he said. “If I can get into that many games, I am confident I can put up good enough of stats.”
After signing his Texas contract, Choo returned home last week and has engaged in a series of charitable activities. The 31-year-old said he hopes to be able to provide equal opportunities for all children to play sports.
“I think it’s important for everyone to have the same chance to play baseball,” Choo said. “I’d like to build stadiums for them to play and to teach them what I’ve learned in both the U.S. and South Korea. I want to build an environment where children can play ball, regardless of their financial situations.” (Yonhap News)