Brewers’ Choi Ji-man scores winning run off bench; Rangers’ Choo Shin-soo gets one hit

March 30, 2018
In this Getty Images photo, Choi Ji-man of the Milwaukee Brewers looks back as he scores during the top of the 12th inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on March 29, 2018, in San Diego, California. (Yonhap)

In this Getty Images photo, Choi Ji-man of the Milwaukee Brewers looks back as he scores during the top of the 12th inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on March 29, 2018, in San Diego, California. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press file photo from March 8, 2018, Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers returns to the dugout after striking out against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a spring training baseball game in Surprise, Arizona. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press file photo from March 8, 2018, Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers returns to the dugout after striking out against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a spring training baseball game in Surprise, Arizona. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) — Milwaukee Brewers’ Choi Ji-man has opened the new major league season by scoring the winning run in extra innings.

Choi hit a pinch-hit double and crossed home plate for the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th inning, as the Brewers defeated the San Diego Padres 2-1 at Petco Park in San Diego, California, on Thursday (local time).

After reaching a minor league deal with the Brewers in January, Choi was a non-roster invitee in spring training. He played his way onto the Opening Day roster, hitting .409 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 27 preseason games.

Choi pinch hit for pitcher Jeremy Jeffress with two outs in the top of the 12th and lined a double to right field off Adam Cimber.

Choi then came around to score on Orlando Arcia’s follow-up single. Reliever Jacob Barnes made the one-run lead stand in the bottom of the 12th, as he struck out the side to close out the game.

Choi is one of four Brewers who can play first base, along with last year’s starter Eric Thames, last year’s backup Jesus Aguilar and former outfielder Ryan Braun, who has switched position following the arrivals of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in the outfield.

Choi is with his third big league team in three seasons, having spent parts of the past two years with the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees. Choi’s stay with the Brewers, at least in the beginning of the season, could be short-lived, as the team is reportedly close to acquiring left-handed pitcher Dan Jennings. Choi is the most expendable of the four first basemen because he still has minor league options remaining — which means the Brewers can send him to the minors outright without exposing him to waivers.

Over in the American League, Texas Rangers’ Choo Shin-soo had a base hit as designated hitter to start his season.

The 35-year-old went 1-for-4 while serving as DH against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday (local time). The Rangers lost to the defending World Series champions 4-1.

The veteran outfielder got some reps at the DH spot during spring training, and prior to this game, Choo had played 142 out of 1,322 games as DH.

Choo’s only hit of the game came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off Houston closer Ken Giles, with the Rangers down 4-1. With Choo at the plate, Elvis Andrus scored on Giles’ wild pitch. Two pitches later, Choo lined one to center to extend the Rangers’ inning.

But the next batter, Robinson Chirinos, went down swinging for the game’s final out.

Choo grounded into a double play against starter Justin Verlander in the second inning and flied out in the fifth and the seventh innings.

Choo is in the fifth season of his seven-year, US$130 million contract with the Rangers. He batted .304 with two homers and nine RBIs in spring training, the first time he’d batted over. 300 in preseason since 2013 with the Cincinnati Reds.

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