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Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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Rays journal: Ji-Man Choi impresses fellow South Korean major-leaguer

ARLINGTON, Texas — DH Ji-Man Choi has impressed a lot of people with his increasing offensive production since joining the Rays in July.

That includes fellow South Korean Shin-Soo Choo, the Rangers' veteran outfielder/DH who has been keeping tabs and in occasional contact since Choi started as a minor-leaguer with Seattle in 2010, then through short big-league stints with the Angels, Yankees and Brewers.

"I know he can play, but he didn't get much opportunity with the Angels, Seattle, Yankees, even Milwaukee,'' Choo said. "I think he's a great fit for Tampa Bay. I know he's playing really, really good now. But earlier in the season, it was good for him because he didn't have any pressure on him and he got more opportunity, consistent opportunity.

"So now you can judge if he can play in the big leagues or not. You don't know when he played two days and then didn't play for a few days. Now he plays most days, and he's already showed in his stats that he can play, he can hit, so I'm very happy for him. Hopefully he stays healthy and Tampa Bay has a plan for him for 2019. I'm excited for him.''

Choi has indeed showed well, the homer he hit that sparked the Rays to the 3-0 win over the Rangers on Monday was his eighth in 43 games, and 146 at-bats, for them, projecting to a season pace of 30-plus.

Choo and Choi went out for dinner at a Korean restaurant after Monday's game, giving Choi the chance to pick Choo's brain and Choo a chance to have a little fun.

"I was 0-for-3 (Monday), and I told him we lost because of him,'' Choo said.

So did he make Choi pay the tab?

"No way,'' Choo laughed. "He never pays for anything in his life, a drink or at a restaurant. I'm happy for him. I'll do anything for him.''

Not-so-minor matters

After winning a second straight International League crown, Durham came up a bit short Tuesday in a bid for a second straight Triple-A national championship, losing 14-4 to Memphis (Cardinals) in Columbus, Ohio. RHP Chih-Wei Hu started for the Bulls but lasted only one inning, allowing two runs. With 17 players in the Rays clubhouse having been with the Bulls during the season, there has been plenty of rooting going on. … With Durham's season finally over, look for the Rays to call up several more players, including OF Austin Meadows, who was acquired from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade. Others might be limited to those already on the 40-man roster, such as LHP Hoby Milner, RHP Austin Pruitt and Hu.

Pitching in

The Rays are going with RHP Diego Castillo as the opener in Wednesday's matinee series finale, with LHP Ryan Yarbrough likely to work multiple relief innings. LHP Jalen Beeks got in Tuesday, his first action since Sept. 10, skipped on his loosely scheduled day Sunday because of the right-handedness of Oakland's lineup. Yarbrough was limited to two innings Friday.

You’re my favorite — today

Rays RHP Jake Faria was doing a nice thing before heading onto the field, playing catch with a young boy in a Rays cap who was in the stands just past the Rays dugout. But it came with kind of a twist. The kid, 10-year-old Ethan Fontanelli, wasn't really a Rays fan but a local just looking like one to get the attention of players on the visiting teams, as he does at many of the games his dad brings him to. "I just wear the hats,'' Ethan said. "I'm just a baseball fan, not any team.'' Nonetheless, he was quite thrilled to get beyond an autograph or a photo for the chance to play catch with a major-leaguer.

Number of the day

24 Majors-most and team-record pitchers to get a win for Rays this season with RHP Tyler Glasnow's W on Monday.

Miscellany

• INF Joey Wendle rapped a career-high tying four hits, his third such game of the season.

• OF Mallex Smith was out of the lineup for a rest, and manager Kevin Cash said CF Kevin Kiermaier is likely to get a day soon.

• OF Carlos Gomez and bullpen catcher Mayo Acosta took part in a pregame ceremony honoring fellow Dominican and Rangers RHP Bartolo Colon.

• SS Willy Adames said he didn't realize at the time that the slow bouncer by Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the fifth inning Monday was Texas' first hit off RHP Tyler Glasnow. "That ticks me off,'' he said. "Maybe I could have put a little bit of magic on it.''

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