MLB Spring Training 2012: Shin-Soo Choo Has a New Outlook

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIFebruary 28, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23: Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts after striking out during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Progressive Field on August 23, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo has his sights set on a new beginning for the 2012 season after a difficult 2011 season filled with various on- and off-field issues.

Acquired by the Indians from the Seattle Mariners in July 2006, his performance remained consistent until he hit the strains that presented in 2011.

In each season beginning with 2006 up to 2010, he hit .295, .294, .309, .300 and .300. The 2011 season led to his struggles hitting .259.

Choo made a poor decision in May and was arrested for DUI. On June 24, he broke his left thumb and required surgery, which landed him on the disabled list until Aug. 11.

Once he returned, he seemed to have recovered very well, hitting .348 until he strained his left oblique muscle on Aug. 27. He remained on the disabled list until Sept. 15.

He re-injured his left oblique muscle during his last at-bat of the season against the Texas Rangers hitting a ground-out.

This offseason gave Choo time to reflect on some of his poor decisions and what changes were necessary to be more positive and productive this season.

One of the things that led him to make those changes was the requirement in his country of South Korea that all men who are 30 years old or younger must serve their country with two years in the military.

He admitted that when he had seen Korean soldiers in the past, he never gave much thought to who they were or what they were trained to do for their country.

He now deeply appreciates them having gone through the same training, ridding himself of his ignorance.

Training was tough learning to use weapons and tactics and it was physically demanding. Before his difficult 2011 season, he had always been goal-oriented. The military training that he gained seems to have re-energized his determination to achieve his goals.

Choo's current goal is to get himself on the Indians' lineup for the entire season, beginning with Opening Day.

He appears to be more relaxed this year and stated that he doesn't feel any pressure. He was concerned about his contract last season, but that concern has subsided.

Avoiding arbitration with Cleveland, they came to terms for a one-year contract worth $4.9 million in January.

With all of the worries and concerns now behind him, Choo is ready and confident as he looks toward spring training and the 2012 season.

He has recovered from his injuries and he has learned a great deal from his poor decisions last year. The 2012 season could prove to be his best yet.