Quiet start for S. Koreans in 2015 MLB season

April 7, 2015
Texas Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo of South Korea gestures while taking batting practice before the start of their opening day baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Monday, April 6, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Texas Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo of South Korea gestures while taking batting practice before the start of their opening day baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Monday, April 6, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) — It was a quiet start to the season for the two South Korean players on Major League Baseball (MLB) active rosters, as their respective clubs lost their opening games Monday, local time.

Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers went 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the team fell to the Oakland Athletics 8-0 on the road. Kang Jung-ho, a utility infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, watched from the bench as his club fell to the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 on the road.

Choo started in right field and batted fifth. Facing starter Sonny Gray, Choo flied out to right in his first at-bat in the second, grounded out to short in the fifth, and went down swinging in the seventh.

Choo is coming off an injury-ridden season in which he was limited to 123 games and hit .242, his worst mark in four seasons. This spring Choo dealt with some triceps pain and batted only .205 with no homers and no steals.

Gray no-hit the Rangers through seven innings and ended up giving up only one hit in eight innings with three strikeouts.

In the National League, Kang will have to wait at least another day to make his big league debut with the Pirates.

Kang signed a four-year deal with the Pirates in January after spending his first nine professional seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). The 27-year-old is the first South Korean position player to go from the KBO to the majors.

Kang had an up-and-down spring training in which he batted .200 with two home runs and five RBIs.

Primarily a shortstop in the KBO, Kang will likely serve as a backup to Jordy Mercer and possibly to Neil Walker at second base. Mercer batted .333 in spring with three homers, while Walker, who ranked second on the team last year with 23 homers, had two in spring along with 10 RBIs and a .316 average.

For the Reds, Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing closer, got the final three outs for the save. Kang has often said Chapman is the one big league pitcher he’d like to face the most.

Ryu Hyun-jin, a South Korean starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

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