Reds player profile: Shin-Soo Choo

CINCINNATI - You're going to see him at the start of every game, so let's get to know him.

His name is Shin-Soo Choo but he often goes by just one name, "Choo." The 30-year-old native of Pusan, South Korea is just a normal guy who's married with three children.

Back home in South Korea, it's a different story. Choo is revered in his native land, pursued daily by cameras and reporters.

Every one of the Reds games will be on South Korean television because of him.

Despite the fanfare back home, Choo has found a home in the United States. He's learned to speak English well from going to dinner with his former teammates in Cleveland. He developed a level of comfort there.

This offseason that level of comfort was challenged when he was traded from Cleveland to the Reds. He's replacing Drew Stubbs in center field, which is a new position for him. He was a standout defensive right fielder in Cleveland, but that spot is locked up by big-armed Jay Bruce.

Former Reds outfielder Eric Davis has been working with him this spring to help with the conversion.

Choo says his transition to center field has been relatively smooth. He says he'll try anything once and that the transition hasn't been a big deal.

Teammates and coaches say one of the most impressive attributes Choo has displayed is his willingness to ask questions and not appear to know everything.

One of the other aspects of his game that people in the Reds' clubhouse are anxious to see is his ability to hit leadoff.

Choo has the ability to get on base and set up the whole batting order, especially the middle of the lineup that features Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick.

He batted .283 with 16 home runs, 67 RBIs and 21 steals in 155 games last season for the Indians. He also struck out 150 times.

But in 99 games as the leadoff hitter, he hit .310 with a .389 on-base percentage. Lifetime, regardless of his spot in the order, his OBP is .381.

The seven different players who hit in the leadoff position in the Reds lineup last season combined to bat .208 with a .254 on-base percentage, so anything is an improvement, but especially Choo's abilities.

Despite their overall success in 2012, the Reds' struggles at the top of the order hindered the team's ability to score runs. The team finished ninth in the NL in runs scored.

Choo also adds another left-handed bat to the lineup, which will help the Reds' balance at the plate.

The Reds are expected to have a lefty, a right-handed hitter in Phillips and then Votto in the three-spot, which will make late-game pitching changes difficult on opposing teams.

Choo seems like the right guy, in the right place, in the right time … in center field.

Choo vs. Stubbs
Shin-Soo Choo Season averages Drew Stubbs


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