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Rays' Choi Ji-man takes fielding drills, hopes for postseason return from injury

Sports 09:08 September 29, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- The Tampa Bay Rays' South Korean infielder Choi Ji-man has taken another step in his rehab from a hamstring injury, with hopes of returning in time for the postseason very much alive.

Choi went through infield drills at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Monday (local time), as the Rays are getting ready to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League (AL) wild-card series beginning Tuesday.

In this UPI file photo from Sept. 8, 2020, Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays (R) tosses to pitcher Ryan Yarbrough covering first base during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington. (Yonhap)

Game 1 of that best-of-three series is set for 5 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) Tuesday, and the Rays have until 10 a.m. Tuesday to finalize their roster.

MLB.com reported that Choi made a few plays ranging to his right and seemed to be moving well on the field. Choi also took batting practice.

The Rays are also missing infielder Yandy Diaz (right hamstring) and pitcher Jose Alvarado (left shoulder). Alvarado threw to Choi and Diaz during Monday's practice.

Choi has been out since hurting his left hamstring on a slide home during a game on Sept. 12.

"Positive news on all of them," manager Kevin Cash said. "We still have time, and we'll buy time to make sure that we're doing right by the decision, and the roster, by 10 a.m."

The Blue Jays will have Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin start Game 2 on Wednesday. Choi and Ryu graduated from the same high school in Korea, Dongsan High School in Incheon, about 40 kilometers west of Seoul. Even if he's healthy, Choi may not start against Ryu, given his struggles against left-handed pitching. Choi, who bats left-handed but dabbled at switch hitting earlier this season, went 1-for-13 with six strikeouts against southpaws during the regular season.

In this Associated Press file photo from Aug. 23, 2020, Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays (R) watches his sacrifice fly against the Toronto Blue Jays during the bottom of the seventh inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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