Choi has been wearing a mask and protective goggles during early summer camp workouts, a practice that could extend to the regular season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Choi could again see time at both first base and designated hitter in 2020 after posting career-best figures in multiple categories, including home runs (19) and RBI (63), a year ago. The 29-year-old has been one of the most consistent on-base presences for the Rays during his first two seasons in Tampa, and it remains to seen if added protective accessories would affect his typically sharp vision at the plate to any degree. Notably, Topkin separately reports Choi hit from the right side for part of Saturday's batting practice session and put solid wood on the ball, but manager Kevin Cash remarked that he plans to keep Choi hitting left-handed on a full-time basis once the season begins.
Choi plans to leave his native South Korea later Tuesday to join the Rays in anticipation of the 2020 MLB season resuming, Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News Agency reports. Choi's impending return to the United States comes on the heels of MLB owners voting Monday to implement a 60-game season that will reportedly begin around July 24, per Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. The plan would require players to sign off on a health-and-safety protocol to arrive at their home stadiums by July 1 to prepare for the season, but it's unclear how that timeline may impact foreign players like Choi, who could need to self-quarantine for a two-week period before partaking in workouts with the Rays. Assuming that Choi is cleared for full team activities at least a week or so before the season kicks off, however, he shouldn't face any restrictions when games begin.
Choi is working out consistently in his native South Korea and maintaining regular contact with manager Kevin Cash and other Rays staffers, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Choi returned to his hometown of Incheon back on March 24 and self-quarantined for 14 days. Subsequent to that period, Choi has been working out with his older brother Jungwoo at the latter's With Baseball academy, which offers the 28-year-old access to regular batting practice as he demonstrated in a recent posting on his personal Instagram account. Choi is also using SMS technology to communicate every few days with Cash and head athletic trainer Joe Benge, and he is contemplating a possible mid-May return to the United States to continue preparing for the regular season.
Choi is preparing to resume workouts in his native South Korea after a two-week period of self-quarantine following his return to the country, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Choi has had to wait longer to resume workouts than some of his teammates due to his decision to return to his home country, which appears to be returning to normalcy daily. The 29-year-old will look to maintain the positive pace of preparation he'd established during Grapefruit League play, when he hit .273 over 10 games.
Choi was hitting .273 (6-for-22) with a home run, three RBI, seven walks and three runs across 10 Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended. Choi's first full Rays season in 2019 was a success, as the 28-year-old posted career highs in doubles (20), home runs (19), RBI (63), walks (64) and runs (54). Choi also generated an impressive and career-best .363 on-base percentage last season, and although Jose Martinez was brought in this offseason as a possible platoon mate at first base, the latter's defensive deficiencies may ultimately limit his opportunities. However, Choi's career-long struggles versus left-handed pitching still project to cap his opportunities versus southpaws, with Yandy Diaz also available to fill in when a left-hander is on the hill.
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