With Deadline close, Choo discusses future with team
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NEAPOLIS -- Shin-Soo Choo wants to play in the postseason, and he hoped to be able to do so with the Indians this season. But with trade rumors now swirling, Cleveland's right fielder understands that his chance might come somewhere else.
Being traded is not a given, but Choo knows it is a possibility.
"I've spent most of my time with the Indians," Choo said on Sunday morning. "I'm so comfortable with the Indians. It's been six years, so everybody in Cleveland, from the team to the people who work in the stadium, it feels like it's good friends and like a family.
"But, the more important thing is I want to win. I want to make the playoffs."
The Pirates had a scout in Cleveland during the Tribe's most recent homestand, and a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report on Sunday indicated that the National League club indeed has interest in Choo. It is believed that Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte is part of the trade discussions. According to FOXSports.com, the Rangers and Reds have also expressed interest in Choo.
The Indians are believed to be seeking a good Major League player with less than three years of service time as part of any deal involving Choo, according to FOXsports.com. On Sunday morning, Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that, if Cleveland traded for prospects in any deal, it would likely be upper-level prospects who are Major League ready, or close to it.
"I think if we do get prospects, it'll be upper-level prospects," said Acta, who was not speaking specifically about a potential deal for Choo. "That's probably the goal. Guys that can either come here right away or just be pretty close. Major League-ready guys that we can control."
Marte, 23, fits those criteria.
He belted a home run in his first big-league at-bat after being promoted to Pittsburgh on Thursday. In 99 games for Triple-A Indianapolis this season, the right-handed-hitting outfielder hit at a .286 clip with 12 home runs, 21 doubles, 13 triples, 62 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. He has hit .304 with a .362 on-base percentage in six Minor League seasons
The 30-year-old Choo, who is making $4.9 million this year and will be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, said he checked with his agent, Scott Boras, to see if Cleveland was trying to trade him. Choo was told that it was certainly possible.
"The first time I heard the rumor I was like, 'Really? The Indians would try to trade me?'" Choo said. "But I can't control that. I don't have a no-trade clause. It's up to the team. If they trade me, I'd have to go. So I'll just play. That's all I can do.
"I asked Scott [Boras], just one time, if it was really true. He said maybe. He didn't say much about it, because it's not 100 percent. He was really careful about what he said."
Choo wanted to make it clear that he has not, and will not, request to be traded.
"No, but if it happens, it happens," Choo said. "I'll just go out and play."
Through 96 games this season -- spent primarily as the Tribe's leadoff man -- Choo has been one of the club's bright spots, hitting .291 with 12 home runs, 32 doubles and 39 RBIs. Along the way, he has posted .378 on-base percentage and a .484 slugging percentage, along with 11 stolen bases, 45 walks and 66 runs scored.
Choo hit .262 with a .779 on-base plus slugging percentage in 44 games over the first two months of the season, but has hit .320 with a .944 OPS in the next 51 games. He went 0-for-4 in Cleveland's 5-1 loss to the Twins on Sunday.
"In the first two months, I was slumping and not playing very good," Choo said. "I was thinking about so many other things outside of baseball and the ballpark. I worried about too many things, and it didn't work. After that, I just focused on being healthy, playing every day and my numbers will come."
Choo's numbers did improve, but Cleveland has remained stuck in neutral.
"Everybody says the same thing, that they hate to lose," Choo said. "But I really, really hate to lose. I want to win. Win. The last couple years, it's been the same situation. We play good, are in first place and then go down at the same time.
"We still have a chance, but everybody knows now with the Trade Deadline, we need somebody. A pitcher or hitters. We can still play, but maybe somebody can help the team."