SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- After getting released by a South Korean baseball club last month, slugger Choi Joon-suk has found a lifeline in Australia.
Choi will join Geelong Korea, the new entry in the Australian Baseball League (ABL) this season, for the team's four-game series against the Melbourne Aces starting Nov. 29, Geelong Korea officials said Tuesday.
Geelong Korea lost their first four matches against the Sydney Blue Sox last week. They will try to get their inaugural W in a four-game set against the Perth Heat starting this Thursday, before Choi and two other former Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) players, outfielder Woo Dong-gyun and pitcher Heo Geon-yeop, join them next week.
Choi, 35, is three years removed from his best offensive season, when he hit 31 homers and drove in 109 runs for the Lotte Giants.
After two more years with the Giants, Choi became a free agent but couldn't find a team until the NC Dinos inked him to a one-year deal in February, about a month before the start of the season.
Choi only managed four homers and 24 RBIs in 93 games for the Dinos, which cut ties with him after the end of the season. In 1,564 career games, Choi has batted .275 with 201 home runs and 881 RBIs.
"I am still in my mid-30s, and I decided to give Australia a try because I wanted to keep playing," Choi said in a statement released by his new team. "I've been training on my own, and I am confident I can fit right in."
Park Choong-sik, Geelong Korea's general manager, said it was easy for him to see just how much Choi wanted to continue his career and added that the veteran hitter could provide an immediate boost to the lineup.
"In addition to being a key hitter, we expect him to play the role of a coach and mentor for younger players," Park said.
Geelong Korea are mostly a team of reclamation projects, with a few other KBO castoffs in their core.
Woo Dong-gyun, 28, is a former high draft pick by the Samsung Lions who didn't pan out after eight seasons, over which he batted .220 with nine home runs and 83 RBIs. Woo was released after 2017 and spent some time in the independent league in Japan.
Heo Geon-yeop, 25, was drafted by the SK Wyverns in 2012 but appeared in just 11 games for them before getting cut this year. He's spent the majority of his career in the second-tier Futures League.
Tough road ahead for Seoul in joint Olympic bid with N. Korea
Roster controversy deprives Korea of first full-time baseball team manager
S. Korea's Team Kim curlers claim unfair treatment by coaches
Football player forced to end int'l career after misconduct
S. Korea to start 2022 World Cup quest with Paulo Bento