CINCINNATI -- After spraining his left ankle sliding into second base in Los Angeles on Sunday, Shin-Soo Choo knew one thing for sure about how he wanted to handle the injury and recovery process.
"I told [manager Dusty Baker], 'I don't want to make it worse the last two, three days,'" Choo said on Friday. "[I wanted to] make sure it feels better and play against the Cardinals."
The third-place Reds entered Friday trailing the second-place Cardinals by four games in the National League Central, making this weekend's three-game series a pivotal one in the division race and one Choo did not want to miss. So the 31-year-old center fielder didn't rush himself back this week. Instead, he took Monday and Wednesday off, and although he played Tuesday, he started in left field, batted second and exited after seven innings.
And just as planned, Choo was back in center field and leading off for the Reds in the series opener on Friday. He was replaced in the seventh inning with Cincinnati trailing, 12-3, but not before going 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
"It's not 100 percent right now," Choo said of his ankle. "But nobody plays at 100 percent in baseball."
On top of the two games in which Choo did not appear this week, Cincinnati enjoyed an off-day on Thursday to give him extra time to rest the ankle, which hindered his ability to change direction. He came in and warmed up without a problem Friday afternoon, and Baker felt confident Choo was ready to go.
"I was watching him closely the other day, but he's two days removed from where he was the other day," Baker said. "He's been getting a lot of treatment. Mr. Choo, he's not going to lie to me."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.