Texas Rangers

For Choo, All-Star nod a career goal. Home Run Derby? 'Probably not'

Shin-Soo Choo wasn't in the Rangers' starting lineup Monday and he doesn't expect to be in the lineup next Monday for the Home Run Derby.
Shin-Soo Choo wasn't in the Rangers' starting lineup Monday and he doesn't expect to be in the lineup next Monday for the Home Run Derby. The Associated Press

First-time All-Star Shin-Soo Choo celebrated Sunday night by treating the Texas Rangers' athletic trainers and masseuse to a steak dinner, a seafood tower and a couple bottles of fine wine.

That must have been some celebration, as Choo was absent from the starting lineup Monday against the Boston Red Sox.

Alas, the day off wasn't for a lingering headache but rather the lingering quadriceps issue that has slowed Choo for more than a week. The mild strain, though, won't keep him from the All-Star Game, July 17 at Washington.

It wouldn't keep him from the Home Run Derby either. Common sense will.

But Choo was informally contacted Monday by a friend who works for MLB to gauge his interest in the swing-for-the-fences showcase generally reserved for the game's elite sluggers.

Choo's career-high in homers is 22, though with 17 in 86 games, he is on pace to shatter that. There is still time until he must commit, but his mind is pretty much made up.

"Probably not," Choo said. "I don't want to embarrass a good time. I'd probably hit two or three home runs."

Baseball, it seems, is facing a tough time filling the derby field. The past two winners, New York Yankees outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, won't participate, and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has also nixed the idea.

Trout and Judge were picked as All-Stars as rookies. For Choo, who is hardly a rookie, being an All-Star is the fulfillment of a career-long goal.

He didn't set out to become the first Korean-born position player to make an All-Star team. He did want to be an All-Star.

Choo had a few chances earlier in his career, like in 2009 and 2010 with the Cleveland Indians an in 2013 in his only season with the Cincinnati Reds. He signed a seven-year, $131 million contract that off-season with the Rangers.

Now in his fourth season with them and his 14th in the majors, the soon-to-be 36-year-old can check All-Star off his list thanks to a 47-game on-base streak that has elevated him to a .293/.399/.504 slash line.

"Before I retired, I wished that one time I would make the All-Star team," Choo said. "I had a couple good chances in my career before this year, but always the same thing happened. So, I really didn't think about it.

"Even this year, I started strong and am doing well, but it's not something I really thought about because their are so many good players."

Choo has clearly been the best Rangers player and had the best resume in a down year for the club. Closer Keone Kela was the only other candidate in a strong field of relievers.

Choo appeared to be a long shot when balloting opened.

Shohei Ohtani was thought to be the leading candidate at designated to be voted onto the American League team until an elbow injury sidelined him and put a dent in his vote count. Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez was the leading vote-getter, ahead of Stanton.

Nelson Cruz, though, was the second choice on the players' ballot.

Choo was an also-ran in fan voting at DH, but is officially listed as an outfielder on the AL roster.

Whatever. The selection, a long time coming, is all that matters.

"Yesterday, I'll never forget it probably in my life," he said. "July 8 I made the All-Star team."

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