Shin-Soo Choo stays with Indians

Updated: November 19, 2010, 6:17 PM ET
By Enrique Rojas | ESPNdeportes.com

South Korea's baseball gold medal in the Asian Games on Friday allows Shin-Soo Choo to stay on the Cleveland Indians' roster for next season instead of reporting to mandatory military service.

Anything other than a gold medal would have forced Choo, 28, into a two-year military training in South Korea, which requires men to complete the service before they reach the age of 30.

Choo
Choo

South Korea beat Taiwan 9-3 in Guangzhou, China, clinching a waiver from military service for all its players, including Choo.

"It's a great relief, for Choo and for all of us too," Indians manager Manny Acta told ESPNdeportes.com.

"We are talking about a great player in the prime of his career. I feel happy for Choo, but also for Cleveland because it won't lose one of its best players for a long period of time," Acta said.

The Indians outfielder went 2-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base in the final game of the tournament, and was 8-14 (.571) with three homers, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored overall.

"If I said I wasn't thinking about military service I'd be lying," Choo told the Korean press after the game. "But that wasn't the main reason to join the national team. I love baseball and to have the opportunity to use the flag on my shoulders, that made me feel proud of my country and of myself."

Last season, Choo hit .300 with 22 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 90 RBIs in his second full season in the majors. In six years and 459 games, Choo has a batting average of .297 with 59 home runs and 52 stolen bases.

"Choo is one of the best players in the majors right now, something that he shows every day on the field," Acta said.

Working out a long-term deal with Choo's agent, Scott Boras, has been one of Indians general manager Chris Antonetti's priorities since he replaced new team president Mark Shapiro as GM last month.

"It is something we will explore," Antonetti said. "He is under club control for the next three years, but we understand his value and hope he will be a Cleveland Indian for a long time. We certainly will try to work through this project with Scott."

The 28-year-old Choo is eligible for salary arbitration this winter and even if the process does not go to a hearing, he will get a huge raise over the $461,100 he earned this year.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.