Dodgers lose Choi to Red Sox

Dodgers lose Choi to Red Sox

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Hee-Seop Choi, the poster boy for "Moneyball" aficionados but a disappointment in his days as a Dodger, was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox on Friday.

Choi was signed during the offseason as a $725,000 insurance policy after Nomar Garciaparra was signed for $6 million to be the starting first baseman. As Spring Training winds down, it has become increasingly obvious that Choi was not going to make the Dodgers' 25-man Opening Day roster.

With prospect James Loney set to play every day at Triple-A Las Vegas, there really was no place to put Choi, the 27-year-old who showed flashes of brilliant power (seven homers in four games last year), but went long stretches with little production.

"It was going to be real tough for him to make the club," said manager Grady Little. "This is a blessing in disguise for him, to go to a club that wants him with a chance to be in the big leagues."

The Red Sox signed J.T. Snow to play first base and have David Ortiz as their designated hitter, but Choi, who just returned from playing in the World Baseball Classic for Korea, will likely be a primary left-handed hitter off the bench.

"Last year and this year, big difference," said Choi, who was a favored acquisition of former general manager Paul DePodesta from the Paul Lo Duca trade. "Last year, I play every day at first base. This year, backup and pinch-hitter. I want to play a lot. The Dodgers have a lot of good players. I got no chance here -- more chance in Boston.

"I feel shock, a little bit sad. I like this team, but I have to play. I [had] fun here. I have good memories of [the] Dodgers, one week, four games, seven home runs, grand slam. But they have a lot of infielders, a lot of good players. At my age, 27, I want to play more, not backup and pinch-hit."

Olmedo Saenz will back up Garciaparra. Choi's departure increases the chances that both utility infielders Ramon Martinez and Oscar Robles will make the club, assuming the Dodgers keep 11 pitchers and not 12. That decision will depend on the ability of enough relievers, like Eric Gagne and Yhency Brazoban, to bounce back on short rest.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.