I haven’t played a single game in the Pittsburgh Pirates uniform yet. However, Pittsburgh Pirates fans recently showed their disappointment towards Choi Ji-man, and the local media’s reaction was not very good.
Choi Ji-man played 113 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last year and had a “career low” season with 83 hits, 11 homers, 52 RBIs, 36 runs, a batting average of 0.233 OPS and 0.723. Choi Ji-man got off to a good start by swinging a fire bat in April, but since the elbow pain started in May, he has been on a downward trend and had a disappointing year.
His sluggishness led to a trade. After the end of the 2022 season, Choi Ji-man changed his uniform from Tampa Bay, where he worked for five seasons, to Pittsburgh through a trade. However, with Choi Ji-man having not played a single game in Pittsburgh, the relationship with the club is not very good. He is conflicted over the salary issue and even the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
The starting point was the salary. After Choi Ji-man was traded to Pittsburgh, he has yet to sign an annual salary contract. Choi Ji-man hoped for 5.4 million dollars (about 6.8 billion won), but Pittsburgh offered 4.65 million dollars (about 5.8 billion won). There is a difference of opinion of about 1 billion won. They failed to come to an agreement by the deadline for salary negotiations, and eventually decided to leave it to the salary adjustment committee’s decision.
In a situation where the salary negotiations were not completed, there was also a conflict over whether or not to participate in the WBC. After the 2022 season, Choi Ji-man underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment in his right elbow. Choi Ji-man, who had never been able to wear the Taegeuk mark before, seemed to be making his unfulfilled dream come true by putting his name on the 30-man list of the WBC national team. However, Pittsburgh refused to participate in the WBC based on Choi Ji-man’s surgery history, and his dream was never realized.
In response, Choi Ji-man expressed his regret through his statement. He said, “Is it because I had high expectations? The disappointment and frustration caused by the decision to not be accepted is very great. The disappointment I feel is so great because I was improving my physical condition well in line with the schedule for the first round in Tokyo as well as joining the national team scheduled for mid-month. It hurts,” but promised the next one, “If I digest the season in good health, I think there will be an opportunity to contribute to the country.”
Fans reacted sharply towards Choi Ji-man, who had difficulty negotiating his salary and expressed his disappointment at not participating in the WBC. On the 7th (Korean time), the ‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’ had reporter Jason McKay respond to fans’ opinions. Here, one fan criticized, “Pittsburgh needs a player with a positive attitude. This is not a team where a below-average player can complain. If only Choi acts like an idiot, release him.” 스포츠토토
Another fan said, “It seems that Choi Ji-man is dissatisfied with not being able to participate in the WBC, but if he can, Pittsburgh should release him.” I saw. I don’t think Pittsburgh was wrong,” he said, criticizing Choi Ji-man’s behavior. The media also expressed regret, saying, “Pittsburgh and Choi Man-man did not start with a good relationship.”
While fans’ public opinion was cold, the ‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’ continued to respond coldly. On the 9th, the media said, “I became cold to Choi Ji-man,” and “I couldn’t understand when Pittsburgh recruited Choi, but it was okay to upgrade first base if possible. But I don’t think he’ll stay in Pittsburgh for long.”
Continuing, the ‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’ compared with Choi Ji-man, saying, “I think Carlos Santana is a really good player.” 92.2 miles) was high, but I expect more from Santana at this point.”
In a situation where he has not yet played a game for Pittsburgh, public opinion like this does not help Choi Ji-man at all. There is only one way to reverse this atmosphere. To prove your skills. It remains to be seen if Choi Ji-man will be able to turn the fans and public opinion on his side through his regular season performance.