Choo goes all out in possible last Texas AB

Rangers end 2020 season with victory over Astros

September 28th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rangers designated hitter gave it everything he had right up to the end, providing his teammates with one more inspirational moment at the end of a difficult season.

Choo finished off his season by beating out a first-inning bunt single, then leaving the game with a mild left ankle sprain. His teammates picked him up as Rougned Odor hit two home runs to lead the Rangers to an 8-4 victory over the Astros in the 2020 season finale on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Field.

“I will never forget today,” Choo said. “I know 2020 was a hard time for everybody in the world, but I think today, I will never forget this.”

Choo had been out since Sept. 7 with a sprained right wrist, but he didn't want to end the season on the injured list. So Choo was activated for Sunday’s game against the Astros at Globe Life Field to get one more at-bat. He was thinking of getting a pinch-hit appearance at some point in the game, but manager Chris Woodward insisted he start at DH and bat in his customary leadoff spot.

“I said a couple days ago, this was a four- to six-week injury,” Choo said. “I am thinking now it was stupid that I played in the game, because the last couple of days, I tried swinging and I couldn’t even hold the bat with one hand. I wanted to send a message to a lot of young players. I just love the game. I wanted to get out there.”

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels arranged a surprise for Choo. The club brought Choo’s wife, Won Mi Ha, his sons, Alan and Aiden, and his daughter, Abigail, to the game for the first time this season. They were in the stands wearing masks, ready for the big moment when Choo came up in the bottom of the first.

“I really appreciate it,” Choo said. “I walked in the batter’s box, and I saw the scoreboard. They showed my family, so it made me very emotional. But I told myself to focus. I was really focused on that at-bat.”

Choo couldn’t swing, so he had a plan. He had been working on it in the batting cage before the game. The Astros were in the normal shift used by teams against Choo, meaning third baseman Alex Bregman was well off the bag toward shortstop. Facing right-hander Chase De Jong, Choo dropped a bunt down the third-base line and just beat Bregman’s throw to first.

Choo also took a tumble as he stretched with his left foot for first base. He was then tended to by trainer Matt Lucero and came out of the game with a sprained left ankle.

“If that had not happened, slipping on the base, I would have finished running the bases,” Choo said. “I had it all planned in my head, maybe I try to steal a base. I said that last night. I walked a couple of steps and it didn’t feel right."

Willie Calhoun entered as a pinch-runner for Choo, who was later praised by his Rangers teammates.

“Choo is one of my best teammates I ever had,” Odor said. “He's one of those guys that are always there for you, always try to make you a better person and a better player."

Choo, 38, has been with the Rangers for seven years and will be a free agent this offseason. Choo said he wants to play next year, but it’s questionable if Texas will have a spot for him on a rebuilding club.

“Obviously, that meant a lot to him to get back out there,” Woodward said. ”I wasn’t going to say anything, but he was nowhere near being able to swing a bat. This is who he is, he wanted to get back out there. This was a meaningful moment after being here seven years.”

The Rangers trailed, 3-1, going into the bottom of the fourth when Odor put them ahead with a three-run home run off DeJong. He hit another homer in the fifth, giving him seven in his past 14 games and 10 this season. That tied Joey Gallo for the most on the club, while Odor led the Rangers with 30 RBIs.