Choo Shin-soo (Yonhap)
Choo Shin-soo has waited his whole life to make his debut in South Korean professional baseball. So what's another day?
Choo, the 38-year-old former major leaguer now with the South Korean club SSG Landers, was scheduled to play in his first Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) regular season game on Saturday. But the Landers' game against the Lotte Giants at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, was rained out, along with three of four other games: the Kia Tigers versus the Doosan Bears in Seoul, the Hanwha Eagles against the KT Wiz in Suwon and the LG Twins against the NC Dinos in Changwon.
Only the game between the Samsung Lions and the Kiwoom Heroes, at Gocheok Sky Dome in the nation's capital, will be played Saturday.
After 16 years in the majors, Choo signed with the Landers in February and instantly became the most intriguing name to watch in the 2021 KBO season. The 2018 American League All-Star outfielder for the Texas Rangers is expected to bat near the top of the Landers' lineup and play primarily in right field.
To start the season, though, Landers' manager Kim Won-hyong had penciled in Choo as designated hitter in the No. 3 spot. Kim revealed that Choo had experienced some pain in his hip.
Choo will still be DH if the Landers are able to play Sunday.
"It's nothing serious, and he'd have no problem swinging the bat," Kim said. "But it could affect him on the field, and as a precaution, we decided to use him as DH."
KBO teams have Mondays off, and Kim said he'll keep an eye on Choo's status that day before deciding where to put him in the outfield.
He spent the bulk of his major league career in right field. During his first KBO preseason, Choo appeared in two games in right field and two more in left field.
Choo is the most accomplished big leaguer to come out of South Korea. His 218 home runs and 782 RBIs are most among all Asian players in major league history.
Choo had been set to face Giants' ace Dan Straily, the league's reigning strikeout king. Choo was 4-for-11 with a home run and an RBI against Straily in the majors.
The Giants' first baseman, Lee Dae-ho, also happens to be a childhood friend of Choo's. They played on the same elementary school team in Busan and helped South Korea to the world junior championship in 2000. They spent the 2016 season together in the American League West division -- Choo with the Rangers and Lee with the Seattle Mariners. (Yonhap)