Holidays a time to reset for Choice's growing family

With child due in January, Rangers outfielder enjoying break after tough season

Holidays a time to reset for Choice's growing family

ARLINGTON -- Jade-Marie Choice's family had a tradition of making gingerbread houses at Christmastime while she was growing up in Hawaii and Portland, Ore.

She tried to get her husband, Michael, to do it this year. It was not a success.

"I had to take it away from him because he was getting frustrated," Jade-Marie said.

"It was a disaster," the Rangers outfielder, said. "Little things are hard for me to do because I have such big hands. I have no touch for something like that."

Choice on Urban Youth Academy

Choice is better at baseball and at playing games with his 3-year-old son, Blair. That's what makes this Christmas a particularly enjoyable one, that and what is expected in January.

"He is a really good father," Jade-Marie said. "It is absolutely hilarious seeing him and my son play together because he really acts like a little kid and my son loves it. It's pretty nice."

"It brings the kid out of you again," Choice said. "You've finally grown up and now you find yourself doing things that kids have been doing all over again. He is in the between age where he can't do it by himself. I have to do it with him. That's always fun."

The couple has another child on the way. Jean-Marie is eight months pregnant with a daughter due in mid-January, which means she and her husband will not be able to take their annual Christmas trip to Portland.

Instead, Christmas will be spent at their home in South Arlington with Blair and Michael's parents. They have lived in the house for three years, but this the first offseason they have been able to really turn it into home. Previous offseasons were chaotic, especially a year ago when Choice was traded by the Athletics to the Rangers.

That gave him a chance to play with his favorite team growing up and live at home with Jean-Marie and Blair. Michael was born in Fort Worth, went to high school at nearby Mansfield-Timberview and played collegiately at UT-Arlington. He and his wife decided to make South Arlington their home long before hearing the news of the trade.

"I didn't believe it at first," Jade-Marie said. "But when he told me, I was so shocked and excited because if he was going to be in the big leagues, it would be close to home. That was such a blessing. I would be able to see him a lot more often, especially with our son."

Being a father is just as important to Michael Choice as playing outfield for the Rangers. The opportunity to spend Christmas with his family in their own house with another child on the way may be the foremost reason why this is a great time for Choice. The shadow of the 2014 season, one that ended with a hamstring injury, is fading away. He has Blair with him every day.

"For me, I want to do the same things with him that my dad did with me," Choice said. "My dad was extremely involved with me in baseball or anything I wanted to do. Mainly it was baseball. He was always there to take me to whatever practice or whatever game was going on that day. That's what I want to do with Blair."

"Blair loves going to every single game at home," Jade-Marie said. "He is always singing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game.' He knows when he gets to the ballfield, he has to be ready to sing it. So he sits there and waits for it. He loves that. He started doing that when he was 2 years old."

Catching up: Michael Choice

Blair was probably too excited about "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" to notice that his father's first year back in Arlington didn't go as well as everybody hoped. Choice made the team on Opening Day, but he struggled in a part-time role on a team crushed by injuries and was sent to Triple-A. While Blair easily adapted to Round Rock and Jade-Marie, a former athlete herself, tried to be supportive in a stressful situation, Choice was able to work his way back to the big leagues in August.

"It's stressful, but it is not that bad," Jade-Marie said. "Because I was an athlete myself, it sometimes kills me, but it's not too bad. I'm not worried about it. I'm just proud of what he has become to this day."

Michael and Jade-Marie met four years ago in the Nike store in Portland. Choice was at Class A Vancouver in the Northwest League and Jade-Marie Kealiinohomoku was an infielder -- second team All-Star -- for the Mount Hood Community College softball team.

"We just happened to meet at the store at the same time," Choice said.

"It was just a coincidence," Jade-Marie said. "A bunch of guys were there, he spotted me and was really friendly. I was surprised because a couple of weeks later, he found me on Facebook and we started talking."

She found her future husband to be much different than what first appearance suggested as a prominent athlete.

"Very humble, very sweet," Jade-Marie said. "He looks scary, but he's a big Teddy Bear. If somebody looked at him, they wouldn't know how sweet and quiet he is."

Choice's three-run blast

Choice is relatively stoic about the 2014 season. Few excuses are offered although it was a difficult time for almost everybody with the Rangers. He is only 25 and one of several candidates for the wide open left-field job. There is still two months to go before Spring Training, but, at this point, the Rangers don't appear eager to add a veteran outfielder even though they did flirt with Torii Hunter earlier in the offseason.

Choice prefers to enjoy this time with his family, but he admitted that there are times when his situation comes up: what happened last year and what is to come.

"No way to avoid it," Choice said. "It's such a big part of our lives. Honestly, I don't know what to think. I'm just going to go out and play. I don't know what to think anymore.

"I tried to take every positive I could out of last year. It started out great from Opening Day, couldn't picture a better situation. Then it slowly went downhill from the baseball side. But it's done with now, nothing I can do about it. A lot of the decisions made during course of season, you can't do anything about. You have to go with the flow. That is how I'm taking this season."

Having Jean-Marie and Blair at home with another child on the way helps immensely.

"I try to separate the two as best I can because I don't want what happens in baseball to affect what is happening at home," Choice said. "If anything, I found out this year I need things at home to be better than ever no matter what happens in baseball.

"I could hit 40 home runs, but if things at home are terrible, the whole offseason will be brutal. You have to take care of what's always going to be there versus what may not be there at all."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.