Army stint helped cleanse Indians' Choo

By Tom Withers

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012 5:10 p.m. MST

Acta said Choo seems less burdened, care free.

"Last year he learned he can't put his whole country on his back," Acta said. "Yes, he represents all of them because he is the only big-leaguer right now from there. But it's hard enough to play this game to be worrying about what everybody else is saying across the world."

It was while he was on those long treks with his army unit of 200 that Choo began seeing the world in a different way.

The pressure to succeed had always driven him, and last year it nearly drove him mad. He couldn't separate the business from the game. There was no joy.

But those six-hour walks showed him how to live life in small steps.

"It made me realize how lucky I am to play baseball," he said. "I'm not worried about anything. I used to worry, not about baaeball, but how fans thought about me. Now, if people say something or talk bad, I don't care. I'm not listening to anything. I'm just going to work hard, play hard and if I go 0 for 4, there's the next day."

Something else is new with Choo, who has added an elaborate tattoo to the inside of his right forearm.

Within the intricate, swirling design are his intials along those of his wife and three children.

It's a reminder of what matters most.

"I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful family, what do I have to worry about?" he said. "I play in the big leagues. Everyone wants to play in the big leagues."

Notes: Acta promised an update Thursday on OF Grady Sizemore, who is expected to miss opening day with what the Indians have called a "lower back strain." Acta did not respond when it was pointed out that the upcoming news sounded "ominous" on Sizemore, who has played in just 104 games the past two seasons because of injuries. ... RHP Josh Tomlin pitched one inning for the win during the four-inning intrasquad game. Spring invitee INF Jose Lopez had the game's only RBI. Acta called Lopez, who hit 25 homers for Seattle in 2009, "an interesting guy."... Acta was excited to hear baseball's expansion to a 10-team playoff could be close. "That's good," he said. "A better chance for the Tribe. I just hope everything is aligned the best way possible. It's good and gives all the teams a chance to get into the playoffs. The game has shown over the last few years once you get into the playoffs anything can happen."

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