Red Sox claim first baseman off waivers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston claimed Hee-Seop Choi off waivers
from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, giving the Red Sox another
first baseman to back up starter Kevin Youkilis.

Choi, who began last season as the Dodgers' regular first
baseman and played in a career-high 133 games, became expendable
after Los Angeles signed former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra
to play first.

Youkilis, a converted third baseman, has played well at his new
position. The Red Sox also have J.T. Snow, another lefty-hitting
first baseman.

"We have liked Choi for a long time and view this as an
opportunity to acquire him when his value is down a bit," Boston
general manager Theo Epstein said. "We like his power, his
patience and his hands at first base. Choi provides depth for us at
first base and in a way third base as well, considering Kevin
Youkilis' ability to play both positions."

Mike Lowell, who won a Gold Glove at third base last year with
Florida, is Boston's starter but is coming off a poor season at the

"We'll see how our roster shakes out, but Choi does have minor-league options if we want him to get everyday at-bats in Triple-A
for a period of time," Epstein said.

Choi, a 27-year-old native of South Korea, has a career batting
average of .240 with 40 home runs, 120 RBI and a .349 on-base
percentage in 363 games. He hit .253 last year with career highs of
81 hits and 42 RBI. He also had 15 homers for the second
consecutive season, three coming in one game against Minnesota last
June 12.

The move came a day after Choi played his first game of the
spring for the Dodgers in which he went hitless in four at-bats. He
spent most of spring training playing for Korea in the World
Baseball Classic.

Dodgers manager Grady Little said the move was in the best
interest of the club and Choi.

"I think it's a good opportunity for him to go to a ballclub
that wants him," said Little, who managed the Red Sox in 2002-03.
"He'll get to play in the big leagues and with a darn good team."

Choi became the first Korean-born position player to play in the
majors on Sept. 8, 2002, with the Chicago Cubs.

In the World Baseball Classic, Choi's three-run homer off Dan Wheeler helped South Korea beat the United States 7-3 on March 13.