Ji-Man Choi, a 22-year-old South Korean first baseman in the employ of the Mariners/Tacoma Rainiers, received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball Thursday for use of a banned substance. The infielder signed with the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent July 2, 2009, and has spent six seasons in the minor league system.
Following the suspension, the Mariners released a statement.
“The Seattle Mariners are disappointed to learn of today’s suspension of AAA infielder Ji-Man Choi. The organization fully supports Major League Baseball’s Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances in our game. Per the Basic Agreement, we will have no further comment.”
In his own statement, released through the players union, Choi said, “A banned substance was detected in my urine sample. I do not know what I could have taken that caused me to test positive. I have not and never would knowingly use anything illegal to enhance my performance. However, I also understand that without an explanation I must serve a suspension, and I accept that. I look forward to putting this behind me and returning to help the Mariners ball club once my suspension has ended.”
Choi appeared in 10 games this season. He had a .394 batting average, a .500 on-base percentage and .545 slugging percentage. Choi also played for the Rainiers in 2013 after minor league stops in Arizona (Rookie League), A Clinton and High Desert and AA Jackson.
As a player on the 40-man roster, Choi will go on the restricted list, freeing up a roster spot. The other first baseman in Tacoma is Jesus Montero.