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Baseball agent has 'no comment' on S. Korean player's denial of connection

All Headlines 08:47 May 01, 2014

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, May 1 (Yonhap) -- A Puerto Rican baseball agent with an apparent tie to a South Korean player said Thursday he had "no comment" on the player's denial of any connection with him.

Melvin Roman, president and CEO of Puerto Rico-based MDR Sports Management, told Yonhap News Agency in a phone interview that he would not comment on the situation between himself and Korean third baseman Choi Jeong.

Earlier this week, CBSSports.com, in an article detailing Choi's interest in playing in Major League Baseball (MLB) next year, identified Roman as Choi's agent. Roman was quoted as saying, "He (Choi) has a strong desire to come and play in the major leagues."

Choi is listed as an international client on MDR Sports Management's website (www.mdrsportsmanagement.com/clients-mdr/minor-league-2.html). Choi, however, denied on Tuesday that he has signed on with any agent to test the big league market.

Through his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, the SK Wyverns, Choi said claims of his having hired an agent or preparing to join the big leagues next year "are not true."

Roman said he had nothing to say in response to Choi's denial of his ties with MDR Sports Management.

"I really have no comment on that," he said when reached while attending a game in Puerto Rico. "That is all I have to say about that."

On Wednesday, a front-office official of the Wyverns said some baseball agents tend to tout players as their clients even before reaching formal agreements with them.

"During overseas training camps (for KBO teams), agents would stop by and say hello to players," the official told Yonhap News Agency. "Then they would start telling people that those players are their clients. Choi said he has never signed any deal with (Roman)."

Asked if he had anything to hide, Roman replied, "I have nothing to hide. I just decided I don't have any comment about that right now."

MDR Sports Management's MLB clientele includes Yadier Molina, an All-Star catcher with six Gold Gloves for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Leonys Martin, an outfielder for the Texas Rangers.

Choi, 27, is a perennial All-Star in the KBO. He has hit at least 20 homers and posted an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of at least .900 in each of the past four seasons.

Choi enjoyed his finest offensive season in 2013, with career-highs of 28 homers, 24 steals, a .551 slugging percentage and a .429 on-base percentage. He was second in the league in slugging, and third in homers and on-base.

Also in 2013, Choi batted .316 and drove in 83 runs, second-best marks of his nine-year career. Despite coming his career-worst 19 errors last year, Choi has been known for solid glove at hot corner.

There are currently two South Koreans in the majors: Ryu Hyun-jin, starting pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Choo Shin-soo, outfielder of the Rangers. Another player, pitcher Yoon Suk-min, is with the Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Ryu last season became the first South Korean to go from the KBO to the majors. Should Choi join an MLB team next year, he will become the first Korean position player to make the jump.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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