PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Out since April 14th with an Achilles strain, first-year Pirates 1B Ji-Man Choi has resumed baseball activities. The hope is he’s on the path to return once his 60-day stint on the IL is over.
Choi has started hitting in the cage, plus he’s doing other baseball activities (including fielding). He’s not eligible to return until June 14, but he will spend some time on a rehab assignment at some point. There are still other steps to take before they get to that point.
“We're progressing,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton on Tuesday. “It's definitely positive signs. With anything like that, you have to continue to take the steps and we're taking the steps. So far, so good.”
Choi was off to a slow start just 4 for his first 32 with the Bucs with no walks. Some of that they believe is attributed to the Achilles injury which originated in Spring Training. In 113 games with the Rays last year, Choi hit .233 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI and a .341 on-base percentage.
“We saw the ability to control the zone, the ability to impact the baseball,” Shelton said of the difference Choi could make. “That's important. We've talked about professional at-bats and that's what he does. That will help lengthen our lineup.”
It would also lighten the load on Carlos Santana who has been almost exclusively the Pirates first baseman. Bucs have played 48 games and Santana has played in -44 of them with 185 at bats and hitting .239 with 14 doubles and a pair of homers.
“We’ll be able to give him off days,” Shelton said of Santana when Choi returns. “I think he's started every game.
He’s played a lot and he's played well at first (base). Metrically, he's (among) the top first baseman in the league. So (having) fresh legs available later in the year (will be) important to be able to give different guys blows.”