Choo wants to play in 2021: 'I can still do it'

September 26th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is going to try and play on Sunday. He also wants to play next year.

Choo, who is on the injured list with a sprained right wrist that is far from completely healed, will be a free agent at the end of this season. Choo turned 38 on July 13, and he made it clear on Saturday he is not ready to retire.

At least, that is how he is looking at it right now.

“Just thinking about myself, maybe I really want to play,” Choo said. “I don’t want to finish my career like this. First of all, I can still play this game. What I have done, a couple more years, I can still do it.

“You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. I say I want to play, but you never know. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the offseason. I’m thinking: Continue to play. Continue to prepare in the offseason to play with the same workouts.”

Choo also said he doesn’t want his last season to be an injury-plagued, pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

“At least play a whole 162-game season,” Choo said. “That’s what I want to play. If it’s the end of my career, I want to play 162 games. Regular full season … 60 games.”

Choo is not going to finish this season with good offensive numbers. He hit .229/.317/.394 for a career-low OPS of .712. Between that and his age, it may be tough for Choo to land more than a Minor League contract from another team.

There are a few things clubs might at least consider. Choo played in 32 games, and 19 were in the outfield. His range factor of 2.13 chances per nine innings ranked among 26 American League left fielders with at least 15 games played.

Choo stole six bases. He also hit five home runs in 109 at-bats. That’s a rate of one home run every 21.8 at-bats, which is the best of his career.

Factoring in his leadership and character, Choo is not a player to be lightly discarded without at least exploring how he might fit on a roster. The Rangers are committed to going with their young players, but there is no guarantee all of them are going to be ready for a Major League season played under normal circumstances.

“I have played here seven years, good or bad,” Choo said. “My numbers are not what people are looking for, but I did it. I was lucky to play with one club for seven years. Pretty special for me. I know, every year [maybe] traded, but I am here.”

Choo injured the wrist sliding into home plate on Sept. 7 against the Mariners. He was diagnosed with a sprained wrist, and a subsequent MRI showed the bone was bruised. Dr. Keith Meister said it’s the type of injury that needs 4-6 weeks, but Choo is hoping to get at least one at-bat on Sunday.

“I don’t want to finish the season with an injury,” Choo said. “Surgery may be a different situation, but if I have a chance to play at least one at-bat, that would be a great memory. I don’t want to think about finishing [the] season with [an] injury. Just my personality. That’s me. I love this game. I still remember where I came from. I’ll never forget where I came from. This game is pretty special to me.”