The big storyline from Sunday’s workout, of course, was the inclusion of Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim on the 25-man roster despite his rough spring and the club’s request for him to go to the minors.
It’s an awkward situation – to say the least – but everyone tried to put a good face on it Sunday afternoon.
Kim was asked if he ever considered going to the minors – like the O’s wanted – instead of sticking with the club, which is his right based on the contract he signed in December.
“Not too much,” was Kim’s response as interpreted by Danny Lee.
Have to love the honesty.
Kim was very diplomatic in his comments today – it’s hard not to feel for the guy, frankly; he was just exercising his right in a contract that the Orioles agreed to. Yes, he didn’t perform like one of the best 25 players in camp, but he’s at Camden Yards now.
“I’m not thinking about that now, earning a spot. I’m just trying to do my best to stay on the team,” Kim said. “With great team support and support from the teammates, I’m very sure I’ll get used to the U.S. and Major League Baseball.”
Executive vice president Dan Duquette was asked if he felt it was awkward having Kim on the 25-man roster since it really ended up becoming the player’s call over management’s. His response?
“These are all management issues and there’s also player decisions that enter into it,” Duquette said. “But at the end of the day we have 24 other players on the team. And the 24 other players are going to do everything they can to have the best team that we can have here and I am sure Kim will do the same.”
What does that mean?
Here’s my take: Yes, this is awkward. So very awkward. But, hey, the Orioles have specialized in this kind of weirdness for years. None of it will matter if Kim hits in the majors and earns his keep.
The Orioles do need another left-handed-hitting outfielder. “We asked for his consent because we thought that was the best way to prepare him. He needed more time in the transition and, so, he didn’t see it that way,” Duquette said. “But the good news is, if he hits, like it says he can hit in the book, I think we have a need for a left-handed hitter on our roster. And, hopefully, the next part of his hitting will be a stronger sample of what we saw in the spring.”
OK, so when will he play?
There’s a right-hander on the mound Monday in Minnesota’s Ervin Santana, but there’s no way Kim gets the start. Not after having one major-league exhibition at-bat in the last week and not after batting .178 in the spring.
My best guess is Kim will get a little playing time but not much– he surely will be the last player on the four-man bench. I could see him receiving one start in the first homestand – maybe on the weekend.
“I’m going to use everybody,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “And I think (Kim) has a chance to contribute. We will figure that out as we go, how that’s going to be. The other team will have something to say about that.”