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Choo looking forward to facing Ohtani in the majors

Dec 26,2017
Choo Shin-soo
Korea and Japan have long been arch-rivals in sports, and the history isn’t lost on Texas Rangers’ Korean outfielder Choo Shin-soo.

The Rangers’ division rivals, Los Angeles Angels, acquired two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani this offseason. An MVP-winning pitcher who also displayed impressive power at the plate in Japan, Ohtani has been among the most talked-about players before even playing his first Major League Baseball (MLB) game.

The two clubs will meet each other 19 times in the American League West in 2018. And Choo said he can’t wait to see the hyped-up 23-year-old.

“Since we’re in the same division, I’ll try my best to beat him if we face each other,” Choo told reporters at Incheon International Airport on Friday.

“I’ve never seen him play in person but I’ve heard a lot about him from other Japanese players,” Choo added. “As a fellow Asian player, I wish him the best in the United States. Maybe things won’t be so easy for him in America as they were in Japan. But he’s a talented player and I think he’ll do just fine.”

Choo himself had a bounceback year after an injury-plagued 2016 season, when he was limited to just 49 games while making four trips to the disabled list.

In 2017, Choo played in 149 games and matched his career-high with 22 home runs. Choo also had 78 RBIs and scored 96 runs.

Choo now has three seasons left on his seven-year $130 million deal with the Rangers. He will turn 36 next July.

Choo hasn’t quite lived up to his massive deal, having missed significant time in both the 2014 and 2016 seasons with injuries. He has also been subject to some trade speculation this offseason.

Choo insisted he has done the best he could in his healthy seasons with the Rangers.

“Personal stats are important, but I’d love to win a championship before my contract runs out,” Choo said. “For next year, the goal is to win the [World Series] title.”

Choo has been playing in the majors since 2005. He’s a rare breed among Korean players who signed with a U.S. club out of high school and moved up the minor league ladder.