The decision by some fans to boo new Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim on Opening Day did not sit well with some of his teammates, most notably outspoken center fielder Adam Jones, who called it “very, very disrespectful and distasteful.”
Kim, who did not play Monday, received a smattering of boos along with some polite applause when he ran down the orange carpet during pre-game introductions. The response obviously had to do with the 28-year-old Korean’s decision to enact a provision in his two-year, $7 million contract which prohibits the Orioles from sending him to the minors without his permission.
The Orioles wanted Kim to go to Triple-A Norfolk after the former Doosan Bears’ star had just eight singles and no extra base hits in 45 at-bats in Grapefruit League games. But Kim denied that request.
So some fans in the soldout crowd made it known that they felt Kim’s decision was selfish.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jones, among others, said he didn’t think the negative response from some fans was appropriate.
“I think it was very, very, very disrespectful for a man who is just going out there trying to make a name for himself, coming over from Korea,” Jones said. “For him to get booed, I think that was very, very disrespectful and distasteful and I know that’s not who the Orioles fans are, especially to their own kind.”
Jones, who never pulls punches, used some colorful language to say how it must have felt for Kim to be booed on his first day in front of a Camden Yards crowd.
“You might as well have just kicked him in the nuts,” Jones said.
Jones said he was in center field when he heard the booing and, “it didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. Because that’s just not who I’ve known Orioles fans to be, especially to their own players. … That right there is just showing me a side I didn’t like seeing. I hope I don’t see too much of it.”
Through interpreter Danny Lee, Kim was told this afternoon about Jones’ comments:
“I also heard the boos. And I really appreciate Adam’s comments about that,” Kim said. “Now what I feel like is I will try my best to get back to how I was before and actually contribute to the team so there are no boos for me, and actually only cheers for me. So I am going to make sure I prepare myself to be a good player.”
Jones wasn’t the only one who didn’t like the negative fan reaction to Kim.
“I was disappointed that I heard them,” closer Zach Britton said of the boos. “There was a clause in his contract (to stay with the club), so I feel like the fans should support us either way. He’s a good player. It’s not like he is just some Joe Schmo. He is a top player in Korea and he is going to help us out. So I felt like it would have been nice if the fans were a little more supportive of him. But, at the same time, they can do that. That’s their right to do that. But I think, as his teammates, we are a little disappointed in that because we are supporting Kim.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he believes the fans are waiting to embrace Kim as a player, and hopefully Kim will be able to facilitate that with his bat at some point. Showalter also joked that maybe the fans were just yelling ‘Soo.’
“That’s probably what it was,” Showalter said. “Another sign of the intelligence of our fans, they knew his (full) name.”