The Orioles aren’t sure how long they will be without left fielder Hyun Soo Kim, who strained his right hamstring running to first base on a groundout Sunday. But they are hopeful the injury is minor and he can be ready for the beginning of the second half, which starts Friday at Tampa Bay.
“He’s got 4 ½ days. We’ll see,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “It’s kind of good he’s had some history with it, so he has an idea. But we’ll see.”
If Kim has to go on the 15-day disabled list, the clock would start Monday, so he could return by July 26.
Showalter said Kim’s interpreter, Danny Lee, told him that Kim had a similar experience before an All Star Break in Korea.
“Through the interpreter, he was talking that he did this the last two days before the All Star Break in Korea. Said a couple days later he was fine,” Showalter said. “I said, ‘The moral of that story is don’t play him the day before the All Star Break.’ I wish I had known about it.”
Kim’s lone at-bat Sunday was in the first, when he grounded out and felt the pain as he ran down the first base line. He was replaced in the field in the top of the second by Joey Rickard.
“I felt a stinging pain as I was running. I talked to the trainer and decided to leave the game upon agreement,” Kim, through his interpreter, told MASN post-game. “I hope that I don’t miss any games. But I will be going through some tests (Monday). So, possibly, there will be some good results from it, so I don’t have to miss any games.”
Given how he started the season – refusing a club request to start the year in the minors after a rough spring training – it’s a testament to the 28-year-old’s ability to hit that any prolonged absence will be missed. That’s a pretty remarkable change from the start of the year.
After playing sparingly in April, Kim has become the club’s best hitter for average, batting .329 with a team-best .410 on-base percentage. He’s the starting left fielder against right-handed pitching while Rickard and Nolan Reimold often start versus left-handers.
There’s no question that someone will have to step up if Kim is placed on the disabled list, but that may not be an easy task since the Orioles have a dearth of contact hitters on the roster.
Kim has been able to bring a different skill set to the Orioles’ free-swinging, powerful lineup. So a DL stay for Kim would be another hurdle the club will have to leap as it attempts to stay in first place.
“That’s kind of been our forte the last few years, having guys step up in big spots, so I’m sure we’ll have someone who can fill in for him,” first baseman Chris Davis said. “I thought Nolan had a pretty good first half and Joey obviously got off to a huge start and has had some good at-bats lately. But you’re not going to replace a guy like Kim-my.”