Ji-Man Choi was on his way to rejoin the Angels before he knew why. His manager with the Angels' triple-A Salt Lake affiliate, Keith Johnson, pulled him from the Bees' game Friday night with one instruction: Pack your bags.
On his way to the airport, he heard C.J. Cron broke his hand, and then he understood: He would be receiving the chance the Angels could not offer earlier in the year. Choi broke camp on the team's 25-man roster, but as a reserve, and he batted only 24 times in five weeks.
They designated him for assignment and he cleared waivers, afterward accepting an assignment to triple A, where he played daily and hit .327 with a .411 on-base percentage and .485 slugging mark.
Cron had emerged as the Angels' hottest hitter this month. After two streaky and, overall, average seasons, he had allowed the team to again dream on his future. Choi does not offer the power potential, but he has demonstrated patience at the plate.
"C.J. Cron has been performing very well," Choi said Saturday, via interpreter Danny Lee, "so I want to make sure the Angels don't feel his absence by playing well enough as he did."
Choi has heard nothing from the team about how much he might play, but he expects to do so far more than in his first stint. They plan to have him split time with Jefry Marte, another 25-year-old with a strong minor league track record and limited major league success.
"The baseball is always the same," Choi said. "Minor leagues, big leagues, the baseball is always the same."