by STEVE HAN | @steve_han
After signing a lucrative $130 million contract, nothing went right for Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in 2014. Playing through injuries, Choo hit a career-low .242 in 123 games before an elbow surgery finally ruled him out for the season in late August.
Evidently, the 32-year-old fell far below expectations and was soon labeled a “bust” by fans and media alike.
“I know what kind of things are being said about me,” Choo told Naver Sports. “It’s something I’ll have to accept. I was hurt all season, but my team needed me. So I decided that playing through pain was the best I could do for my team. The only thing that hurts me is when I hear people denounce my entire career because of one bad season I had.”
Going into this past season, Choo was widely considered one of the best outfielders in the major leagues. Between 2006 and 2013, his batting average fell below .280 just once in eight seasons, during which he eclipsed the .300 mark three times. He even turned down a $140 million offer from the New York Yankees to sign with the Rangers as he felt that he would have a better shot at winning.
However, after reaching the World Series twice in the last four years, the Rangers also suffered their worst season in recent memory and finished with the worst record in the American League at 67-95. And Choo went down with them.
Choo, who recently started practicing in Dallas after recovering from the elbow surgery, said he has never started to prepare for a season earlier than this time around. He vowed to make the upcoming 2015 season a turning point of his career and return as one of the most dynamic outfielders in baseball.
“I’m sure the efforts I’m making now will pay off,” Choo said. “I no longer want to take any more criticism. At the end of the day, I’m sure all the struggles I’ve been through this season will be remembered as times I feel thankful for after I overcome. I’ll regain the faith from fans who became frustrated from watching me struggle this year.”
Read KoreAm’s August/September cover story on Shin-Soo Choo here.