In mid-December, I spoke to Daniel Kim, a Korean sports columnist for Daum Media and TV baseball analyst for KBSn about the Orioles signing of Hyun Soo Kim to a two-year, $7 million contract. He was supposed to be the club’s starting left fielder.
Four months later, Hyun Soo Kim’s situation has changed greatly after he struggled in the spring (eight singles in 45 at-bats). He made the Orioles only because he refused to be sent to the minors, something that was his right based on the contract he signed.
Kim is currently on the Orioles’ bench; he didn’t play at all in the club’s first four games and was booed by some in the soldout Camden Yards crowd during pre-game introductions on Opening Day. Several Orioles, led by center fielder Adam Jones, criticized those home fans that booed Kim without allowing the player a chance to prove himself as a major leaguer.
It seemed like a good time to re-visit with Daniel Kim (no relation to Hyun Soo) to get a sense of what those in Korea are thinking about the Kim situation here.
Through the marvel of modern technology, I recorded a podcast this week with Daniel Kim, who is in Seoul. The whole interview is here – please check it out. I think it is pretty interesting, and Daniel has a tremendous insight into things.
Here are a few things he said worth noting:
Daniel Kim on the initial singing of Hyun Soo Kim by the Orioles: “Hyun Soo’s main game is his ability to make contact consistently and get on base consistently, and I thought, personally, he was a perfect fit, I guess, because what Hyun Soo brings to the table and what the Orioles needs were at that time.”
Daniel Kim on Hyun Soo Kim’s spring: “Hyun Soo Kim grew up watching Major League Baseball and even when he was playing in the KBO he was closely following Major League Baseball. Downside of that is I think he kind of became in awe of his surroundings and his situation (in the spring). I think he (put) too much pressure on himself and, at the same time, gave too much credit to the opponents he was facing at that time. So I think he definitely came into camp with the completely wrong approach.”
Daniel Kim on Adam Jones’ comments to BaltimoreBaseball.com that the fans at Camden Yards who booed Kim were “disrespectful” and “distasteful”: “When the All Star voting starts, Adam Jones is going to get a lot of votes coming his way from IP addresses based in Korea. He has gained a lot of fans in a short period of time.”
Daniel Kim on how many Koreans currently view the Orioles organization: “Not favorable. I should probably find a more negative way to explain the situation. But fans are fans. If Hyun Soo Kim steps up and shows what type of player he is, and if Baltimore starts winning, a lot of people will be back on the wagon. … We’re just waiting to see what happens. But, right now, Korean fans are not all that thrilled about how Hyun Soo Kim was treated. They’re not thrilled about the numbers that he put up, and the entire situation was not handled right, that’s how a lot of Korean fans feel.”