In this Associated Press file photo from March 9, 2021, Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays hits an RBI single against the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the fourth inning of a major league spring training game at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Yonhap)
Having been sidelined for about two weeks with a knee injury, Tampa Bay Rays' South Korean infielder Choi Ji-man can't wait to return to the field.
The rehab has been taking longer than he'd like.
In a Zoom media conference from Florida on Thursday (local time), Choi said he's been surprised by two aspects of his current condition: one, that he's had to deal with pain on two different occasions, and two, that the rehab has gone on as long as it has.
"It's such a shame that I've been sitting out for so long," said Choi, whose MRI exam revealed right knee inflammation on March 13. "I took some swings in the batting cage and played catch yesterday, and I want to get back on the field as soon as possible."
Choi first reported pain in his right knee at the end of February and rested for a few days. Then it flared up again earlier this month, after Choi had appeared in just five spring training games. He was batting .364/.500/.455 with an RBI and three walks.
"It feels good to be back practicing," Choi said. "I don't know exactly when I'll be able to return, but the rehab has been going well so far. I feel like I can play, but my trainer has to check (my physical condition) first."
Choi is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day on April 1, and he sounded resigned to that fate.
"I am disappointed that I won't be able to help the team at the start," Choi said. "I just have to focus on getting better quickly."
With Choi out of the mix at first base for now, the Rays will rely on Yandy Diaz and Yoshi Tsutsugo. (Yonhap)