Shin-Soo Choo says his arrest on a drunken-driving charge has affected his play.
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”I know what the problem is: I try too hard, I think too much. I need to slow down my mind,” Choo said Sunday as he returned to the Cleveland Indians’ lineup against Texas after getting a game off.
Choo said he is no longer worried about the legal problems stemming from his arrest, but is concerned with how he is regarded in both America and his native South Korea.
I think so,” he said. ”My first country is Korea, but I’ve lived here 11 years. This is my country, too. I have two different countries, so I worry about more fans.
”That happened last month. So I wanted to play good in the field, show better play and then try to make people forget.”
Choo was arrested May 2 on suspicion of drunken driving after a breathalyzer test showed he had a blood-alcohol level of .201. Ohio’s legal limit is .08. He apologized to each of his teammates individually before Cleveland’s next game.
Manager Manny Acta pointed out Saturday that Choo had never had an off-field incident before or since and that the outfielder is learning to deal with the scrutiny that comes with a misstep. To help ease the pressure, Acta dropped Choo three spots in the order on Sunday to No. 6.
”It doesn’t matter to me,” Choo said. ”I’ve talked to the skipper. I see my numbers. Third is the best hitter on the team. I’m not right now.”
A 4-for-23 skid before getting his one-day break dropped Choo’s average to .242 with only five homers and 22 RBIs in 54 games. He had not homered since April 29. The past two seasons, he hit .300 and averaged 21 homers and 88 RBIs.
Choo said he is fine with hot-hitting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera batting third as the Indians try to snap out of their first downturn of the season that saw them lose 8 of 11 entering Sunday.
”Cabrera is hitting really, really good from both sides, left and right-handed,” Choo said. ”He has a lot of extra-base hits and he gets on base a lot of times, giving you a chance to win more games.
”We’re losing games. Everything is a little bit down, so it doesn’t matter for me to change anything. Nine hole, eight hole. It doesn’t matter. Making sure we’re winning is more important.”
Cabrera came in hitting .306 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs.
Choo figures that Cleveland could be even further out in front in the AL Central if his offensive production was up to normal.
”Everybody sees it,” he said. ”I’m trying too hard. That’s just my natural thought. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it makes it worse. It’s given me a lot of stress.”
Choo said he’s always had a great passion for playing and is trying to put his career into perspective. Instead of dwelling on his problems, he said he is thankful to be playing in the majors.
”I love it a lot, maybe too much,” Choo said. ”I’ve (listened to) a lot this year. Not baseball things. I need to close my ears, close my eyes. It’s not easy. There’s been a lot of stress this year. My wife has told me not to worry about it. I told her, ‘Honey, I know, but it’s hard to do it.’ ”