Shin-Soo Choo hoping to avoid military service by playing for South Korea in Asian Games

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Shin-Soo Choo has established himself as one of the best all-around outfielders in the league over the past three seasons, but his two-year obligation to the South Korean military has lingered in the background as a potential complication.
And now he’ll try to play his way out of the military.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports that Choo is on South Korea’s official 24-man roster for the upcoming Asian Games and speculates that he “would likely receive an exemption from the South Korean military … if Cho’s team is able to capture the gold medal.”
Choo is 28 years old and according to Castrovince “all able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve two years in the military by the end of their 30th year,” so without that exemption the Indians could be facing life without their right fielder.
Choo has said previously that he has no intention of serving the two-year term while in the prime of his career and Castrovince writes that “a last-ditch option would be to simply not return to South Korea and begin the process of becoming an American citizen.”
Before that happens he’ll try to help South Korea win the Asian Games, which is an 11-team tournament held in China two months from now. Assistant general manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians would support Choo’s decision to play “provided there’s not an injury or a workload concern.”

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.