It may not have been the most aesthetically pleasing big league debut.
Hyun Soo Kim didn’t appear to be a gazelle in left field and the cover of the baseball wasn’t on the ground after his first single.
But the bottom line: Kim appeared in his first Orioles game, caught both fly balls hit to him in left and registered two infield hits, scoring his first MLB run on a Manny Machado homer.
All things considered – and you have to consider everything, the rough spring, the decision to stay in the majors, the booing on Opening Day – Sunday has to count as a success for Kim.
“Today was a nervous day. I tried to focus on just making contact (with) the pitches I am seeing because it has been quite a while. So that was the main focus for me,” Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. “I was relieved I was lucky enough to get a first Major League hit. There is a lot of gap for me to improve on, so I will try my best to show a better performance throughout.”
No mistakes, a couple hits and some cheers from the 23,101 at Camden Yards. Perhaps that was the biggest victory for Kim. When he came to the plate in his first at-bat, he received only applause. He admitted that meant something to him.
“Going back to Opening Day, there was a slight booing for me. So that was slightly in my mind. All I thought about going into the game was try not to get booed anymore, so I basically can perform throughout,” he said. “But then that ovation basically helped me get relief from it. It was a good start for me.”
Kim’s first big league single was a dribbler to the left side of the infield that bounced off the glove of Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi. If you study the picture above taken by BaltimoreBaseball.com photographer Joy Absalon, you can see just how much Kim topped the pitch. His bat is well above the ball, which is dropping almost straight to the ground.
But Kim hustled out of the box and made it to first safely. He did the same in the seventh, dashing to first on a grounder to shallow right that second baseman Logan Forsythe couldn’t quite make a play on. Kim’s other at-bat was his best struck ball, but it was fielded cleanly by the Rays’ shift for a ground out.
“I was very happy that I was actually able to make contributions,” he said. “That was the only thing I tried to do every time I was at bat. Lucky or not, I will do my best to contribute to the team.”
So a 2-for-3 day and a win for the Orioles, their fifth straight. Kim joked after the game, he was just hoping his club wouldn’t lose in his first appearance.
“I was slightly concerned the team might lose today with me in it,” he said. “So to make sure that didn’t happen, I tried my best.”
Now he has a pretty cool souvenir. The Orioles made sure to grab the ball from Kim’s first hit.
“I will keep that in a safe box,” he said. “Make sure no one takes it.”