Frustrated at his team's repeated failure to put itself in contention for the holy grail of baseball, Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians expressed his feelings at a press conference on Thursday upon his arrival in Seoul from the U.S.
"I'd like to play in a team that wins and gets attention," Choo said. "I thought the Indians would be able to reach the playoffs this season, but the team didn't make it. The same situation has repeated itself for three years in a row now, with all the players' hard work and sweat throughout the season failing to pay off."
The Indians topped the Central Division in the American League early in the season, but fell short of the playoffs as the team's ranking plummeted mid-season. The Indians finished fourth among five teams in the division with 68 wins and 94 losses.
Choo played in 155 games this season and recorded a batting average of 0.283, with 169 hits in 598 at-bats, as well as racking up 16 homers, 67 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. He failed to match his record of 20 homeruns and 20 stolen bases in 2009 and 2010, but performed better than last season, when he suffered a spate of injuries and was embroiled in a controversy after being arrested for drunk driving.
In 2011, he posted a batting average of 0.259 with eight homeruns and 36 RBIs. After he switched to becoming a leadoff batter, he gained strength and was nominated for the Hank Aaron Award, awarded each year to the league's top hitter.
Choo becomes a free agent at the end of next season and the Indians, given their tight budget, may trade him for several promising young players. But Choo was tightlipped on the prospect, saying that "even my agent has no idea whether such a trade will happen yet."
On the possibility of playing in the third World Baseball Classic next year, he said the decision is not up to him. "It is every player's dream to represent their country and I was very grateful for being able to do so during the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, which also exempted me from my military service [courtesy of the team winning the gold medal]. However, I'm waiting for a decision by the new manager [Terry Francona], who I know is looking to rebuild."
During his stay in Korea, Choo will focus on improving his batting against inside pitches by consulting with sports psychologists to overcome his fear of picking up more injuries.
"I struggled at the beginning of the season because I was worried about inside pitches, which can easily strike the body. But when I tried to shake off my anxiety and fear of injury, I was able to hit better."