Choi Ji-man makes strong bid to make Angels roster

March 11, 2016
Choi Ji-man (AP)

Choi Ji-man (Yonhap)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

Korean first baseman Choi Ji-man is making a strong bid to make the Los Angeles Angels roster. Three days after hitting his first home run of the spring, he added a single and a steal to aid his cause.

He has also walked in four straight games and even initiated a nifty double play Friday.

With Albert Pujols still recovering from foot surgery, the 24-year-old switch-hitter was inserted as the clean-up hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Cactus League action, and did not disappoint manager Mike Scioscia. After taking the Thursday off, Choi singled in his very first at-bat against Zach Lee and scored on catcher Geovanni Soto’s three-run blast.

Choi got on base again in the top of the fourth inning by getting a walk off the Dodger’s closer Kenley Jansen, and promptly stole second base.

He also showed a good glove when he took a grounder to initiate a 3-4-3 double play in the bottom of the fourth, but struck out in the sixth before getting lifted.

Choi’s batting average is nothing to write home about at .238, but he is finding other ways to get on base, as his on-base-percentage (OPS) is a healthy .385. He currently leads the team in both walks (5) and strikeouts (6).

The Angels do not have an option to send Choi to the minors as they chose him in the “Rule 5 draft” for $50,000 last winter. They either have to put him on Major League roster, or offer him back to the Baltimore Orioles for $25,000.

The Angels won 8-4 to hand the Dodgers their second loss (five wins) of the spring and improved to 4-6.