LAKELAND — Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi will have arthroscopic surgery on his sore right knee and be sidelined into May.
Choi has had issues with the knee since early in spring training and had a recurrence of soreness last weekend shortly after resuming baseball activities following a 10-day shutdown and a cortisone shot.
The procedure will be done Wednesday morning by Dr. Koco Eaton, and the results will determine the cause and extent of the injury, and a more precise timetable on how long Choi will be sidelined.
“I don’t think anything has been totally defined on, ‘Here’s the issue.’ We know there is an issue,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “So until they go in and check it out, (then) I think we’ll have the best sense. But right now the timetable is that three to five weeks. ... If there’s a loose body in there and they take it out, that’s different than having maybe something else (more severe) in there.”
Choi, who beat the Rays in an arbitration hearing to earn a $2.45 million salary, reported to spring training saying he had not been able to do all of his usual offseason work because facilities in his native Korea were shut down. Cash made it clear the team also would like Choi to work on his conditioning.
“We’re going to really need Ji-Man to work hard throughout the rehab process ... to get himself, the rest of his body, in as good shape as possible to speed that up so we can see him back on the field in the lineup for us quickly,” Cash said.
Cash, politely, called the extended absence for a key lefty in the lineup “not ideal.” Though the Rays will miss Choi, Yoshi Tsutsugo has played well since shifting to first base in his absence and will get the opportunity to play there, at least against right-handed starters. Yandy Diaz is likely to get the starts against lefties, with Mike Brosseau also in the mix.
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