Choo shows off his arm in left
Indians outfielder impresses in finale with Rangers
CLEVELAND -- 'What were the Rangers thinking?' thought Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach. Did they not realize the strength of Shin-Soo Choo's left arm?
"It has to be in the scouting report somewhere," Shoppach said.
Apparently not. On a fly ball to medium-deep left field in Thursday's first inning, Kenny Lofton was bent on challenging Choo's arm. Nevermind that the bases were loaded with nobody out.
"I think that was a mistake," Shoppach said.
Indeed. Choo easily nailed Lofton on a rifle to Shoppach and the Indians were able to escape the jam unscathed en route to a 9-4 victory over Texas at Jacobs Field.
"That [play] was the key to the game," starter Paul Byrd said. "It changed the momentum and gave me a lot of confidence. I told him I owe him a big steak."
Not that the play was unexpected. Choo has been nothing but impressive since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo last week. The 24-year-old has been solid in left field and terrific offensively, driving in four runs and scoring in all four of his appearances.
"He's played some pretty good baseball in the short period of time he's been up here," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's had a couple of big hits for us, he's played well defensively, and it's nice to see."
Choo was called up to replace David Dellucci, who has missed the last five games with a left calf injury. So while his stay might be short-lived, he's certainly given the team's brass something to think about.
Choo, who was acquired from Seattle last July in the trade that shipped away Ben Broussard, has proven to be a valuable option against right-handers. In 61 games with the Tribe last year, Choo hit .270 with 26 RBIs, 12 doubles and three homers against right-handed pitching.
By season's end, he looked to hang with the big club in 2007. But when the Indians signed veteran outfielders Trot Nixon and Dellucci, Choo was sent to Buffalo to begin the year.
Choo said he was hardly dismayed.
"I never get angry," Choo said. "I agreed with it. I wasn't really good at hitting left-handed pitching. I needed more practice playing left field."
But he's back. And this time around, he's comfortable in Cleveland.
"A lot of teammates welcomed me this time," Choo said. "They're like, 'Choooooo.'"
And his ease has shown. A liability at times in left field last year, Choo has played flawlessly there this season.
"What caught my eye right away was just playing left field in Minnesota," Wedge said. "That's a tough place to play left field there in that dome."
And then of course, there's that arm of his.
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.