Choi Ji-man and Pittsburgh’s companion have been creaking from the start.
The World Baseball Classic (WBC) Organizing Committee informed the KBO on February 5 (Korean time) that it could not approve only Choi from the Pittsburgh Pirates to participate in the 2023 WBC. The Pittsburgh club expressed its opposition to the selection of the national team, citing Choi Ji-man’s surgery history last year, and the organizing committee eventually sided with the club. The KBO selected Choi Ji-hoon (SSG) as a replacement for Choi Ji-man.
Choi Ji-man, whose participation in the WBC was canceled, expressed his position through his management company. Choi Ji-man said, “All players will dream of representing their country with a national flag on their chest. It’s great. I was improving my physical condition well, so the disappointment I feel is so big and painful.” Choi Ji-man, who had never worn a national team uniform, was very disappointed. 스포츠토토
As a result, Choi Ji-man faced two consecutive clashes with the team this offseason. Since an agreement could not be reached during the salary negotiations for the 2023 season, the salary adjustment process is currently underway, and the WBC participation was also reviewed by the organizing committee as an agreement could not be reached with the club.
Opinions of players and clubs may conflict. But the timing is not good. Choi Ji-man left the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade last November and wore a Pittsburgh uniform. In other words, Choi Ji-man is a player who has not yet properly worn the Pittsburgh uniform. Choi Ji-man confronted the team twice in a row before he even stood on the ground wearing a uniform. As soon as a player who has never done anything for the team joins the team, he becomes the looker for the team.
And Choi Ji-man openly poured out his dissatisfaction with the decision. His announced statement was full of regret about the failure to join the national team, but there was no acceptance of the club’s decision. It was a statement that could be read with the nuance of ‘I was frustrated because of the club and the organizing committee’s unreasonable decision’.
However, the Pittsburgh team had enough reasons to oppose the participation. Choi Ji-man underwent elbow surgery in the offseason, and if he competed in the WBC, Pittsburgh would have to play outside before properly checking the physical condition of a player who had just been recruited and had just returned from injury. It is natural for the club to keep a close eye on the physical condition of new players and returning players from injuries.
Local media are also pointing this out. On the 7th, Pittsburgh’s leading journalist, Post-Gadget, pointed out that “Choi Man-man expressed his frustration over Pittsburgh’s refusal to participate in the WBC,” and “The relationship between Pittsburgh and Choi Man-man did not start well.” Post-Gadget said, “The two sides had a big difference in salary negotiations. Choi Ji-man asked for 5.4 million dollars, and Pittsburgh offered 4.65 million dollars. And this time, Choi Ji-man, through a Korean agency, apologized for the club’s decision not to participate in the WBC. He expressed his disappointment.”
It’s a situation where you can’t keep your eyes open. In the ‘conversation with fans’ conducted by Post-Gadget on the 7th, some Pittsburgh fans poured out criticism against Choi Ji-man. “If Choi Ji-man continues to appear stupid, the team should release him. Isn’t he a below-average player anyway?” Didn’t you?” voices came out. Post-Gadget also soothed the fans, saying, “Even if only Choi is released, he has to pay at least $4.65 million in salary anyway. There is no reason for that from the club’s point of view.”
An application for salary adjustment is a right that players have, and there is nothing wrong with exercising it. Even though I haven’t played a game in Pittsburgh yet, just because I came to a new team doesn’t mean I have to accept the club’s demands unconditionally. However, Jiman Choi’s response to the WBC was obviously disappointing.
The WBC, which is held right before the start of the regular season, is a tournament that clubs can’t help but care about. It is a tournament led by the Major League Secretariat, and everyone agrees with the purpose of raising baseball’s popularity worldwide, but if the star players participating in the tournament are injured, the club’s plans for the season will be ruined. The secretariat also prioritizes the prevention of injuries to participating players, and there are many cases in which clubs do not allow players to participate in competitions.
Top-class star players such as Luis Castillo (SEA) and Carlos Correa (MIN), who have not recently undergone surgery and do not currently have any problems with their physical condition, were also unable to join the national team due to the club’s refusal to participate. However, no one publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the club’s decision. In this case, most of the players emphasize the fact that ‘there was a difference of opinion with the club, but there was no confrontation or conflict’ with a cliché but standard expression such as ‘Unfortunately, I respect and understand the club’s decision’. It is only natural that the eyes of the Pittsburgh press and fans will focus on the ‘conflict between Choi Ji-man and the club’.