MLB veteran and Asian Games champion Choo open to Olympic call-up after KBO switch
Monday, 1 March 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) veteran and Asian Games champion Choo Shin-soo has said he will "absolutely play in the Olympics" if given the opportunity, after signing for a club in his native South Korea.
Choo has joined the Incheon-based SK Wyverns for the upcoming Korea Baseball Organization season, which means unlike MLB players he will be eligible to compete at Tokyo 2020 as the league will pause for the Games.
The 38-year-old did not seek to inflate expectations when asked about the Olympics by news agency Yonhap, but did admit a desire to appear at the Games.
"First of all, I'll have to be good enough to earn my place in the Olympics," said Choo.
"But if I have good numbers and I am playing well enough [during the season], then I will absolutely play in the Olympics."
South Korea won a gold medal when baseball last appeared on the Olympic programme at Beijing 2008, but Choo - who was already an MLB player - did not play.
Choo represented South Korea at the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games, winning a gold medal, and was also a member of the team who finished runners-up at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
"He just signed his contract, and if I talk about his future with the national team, it would only put more burden on him," said national team manager Kim Kyung-moon, as reported by Yonhap.
"I'll be keeping an eye on all players, including Choo, and put together the team as I see fit."
Now 38, Choo is vastly experienced but played only 33 games for the Texas Rangers last season.
Choo was named an All-Star in 2018 and, including the postseason, hit 220 career MLB home runs - the all-time record from an Asian player.
The Olympic baseball tournament is due to run from July 28 to August 7 this year, with the majority of matches scheduled to take place at the Yokohama Baseball Stadium.
Some opening round matches are due to take place at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.