Choi breaks leg while landing awkwardly in opener

ChoJiManMariners first base prospect Ji-Man Choi broke the fibula bone in his right leg on Wednesday after landing awkwardly trying to haul in an errant throw in the ninth inning of Seattle’s 4-3 victory over the Padres in their Cactus League opener.

Choi, a 23-year-old from South Korea, was carted off the field after going down in a heap at the first-base bag following his leaping attempt to pull in a high toss from shortstop Tyler Smith.

“That’s a tough break,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “It was almost a little freakish. He went up and came down on the opposite foot and fractured his [lower leg]. It’s a little tough. He just landed awkwardly.”

Choi played 70 games at Triple-A Tacoma last year in a season shortened by a 50-game suspension following a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance. He was likely ticketed for Tacoma again this year, but was one of several first basemen in camp providing depth behind starter Logan Morrison.

Choi hit .283 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 237 at-bats for Tacoma last year after a strong 2013 season in which he batted .295 with 18 homers and 85 RBIs in 122 games split between Class-A High Desert, Double-A Jackson and Tacoma.

Choi is one of three first basemen on Seattle’s 40-man roster, along with Morrison and Jesus Montero. But McClendon has talked of using newly acquired veteran Rickie Weeks as a backup first base option and Willie Bloomquist can also play that position.

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