Published : 2014-04-01 09:19
Updated : 2014-04-01 09:27
South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-soo went hitless in his debut with the Texas Rangers on Monday at home in Arlington.
The 31-year-old went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout as the leadoff man, and the Rangers lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 14-10 in their season opener.
The Rangers were outhit 17-14 in the slugfest.
Facing left-handed starter Cliff Lee, Choo flied out to center in his first time up in the bottom first. In the bottom second, with Josh Wilson at second with one out, Choo grounded out to second and advanced the runner to third. Wilson was stranded there when Elvis Andrus lined out to right to end the inning.
In the fourth, Choo came to bat after Wilson hit a single but grounded into a fielder's choice to shortstop as Wilson was forced out at second.
Choo struck out looking in the sixth against a new Phillies pitcher, left-hander Jacob Dierkman. Choo drew a walk off the Phillies' fourth pitcher, southpaw Antonio Bastardo, in his final plate appearance of the day in the bottom seventh.
Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers in December, after spending the 2013 season with the Cincinnati Reds. The Rangers are hoping Choo can fill their need in the leadoff spot and in left field.
The Rangers went down 6-0 after the top second but responded with four runs in the bottom second, and actually went ahead 7-6 with three more runs in the bottom third. The Phillies kept pouncing on the Rangers pitching, though, with a run in the fourth, two more in the fifth and four runs in the sixth.
Choo told reporters afterward he was disappointed that the Rangers came up short.
"Both teams scored a lot of runs, but I guess Philadelphia capitalized on their chances more," he said. "I am sure a lot of people didn't think we could win after we gave up six runs in the second. But we came back with four runs in the bottom second, and I think it showed that our ball club can always score in a bunch."
Before this season, Choo carried a lifetime batting average of .243 against left-handers, compared to .309 against right-handers. After Lee, the Phillies sent in two left-handed relievers, Dierkman and Bastardo, to handle Choo.
Normally a patient hitter, Choo on Monday swung the bat early in the count against Lee, a former Cy Young Award winner.
"Lee is an aggressive pitcher who pounds the strike zone, and I also wanted to be aggressive early," Choo explained. "It's a shame that the fly ball was caught at the warning track (in center)."
Choo struggled in preseason, batting just .161 with a home run and three RBIs in 20 games, while dealing with elbow pains.
Choo, currently the only South Korean position player in Major League Baseball, enjoyed the most productive season of his career in 2013. He ranked second in the National League in on-base percentage (.423), walks (112) and runs scored (107), and put together his third 20-20 season with 21 home runs and 20 steals. (Yonhap)