The disastrous introduction that was his 0-for-23 spring training start grows smaller behind Kim, and it appears the player who was known as the “Hitting Machine” in the Korean Baseball Organization is starting to believe he can be that for the Orioles.
“I asked him before he got up [in the eighth inning] if he ever had four hits in a game and he said, 'Tonight,'” Showalter said after Wednesday's 13-9 win over the Boston Red Sox. “He didn't quite get it.”
Still, Kim had three hits and a walk to bring his 2016 line to .382/.469/.509 in 19 games this season.
“He's kind of past making the most of opportunities,” Showalter said. “He's getting a lot of opportunities. He's taking advantage of them. I'm happy for him, because he's been good through everything, and has a lot of respect for what's going on here.”
Kim has started seven of the past eight games for the Orioles after making eight starts in the preceding 43 contests, and is batting .385/.484/.615 with a home run and three doubles in that span. He had some early luck on infield singles, but through Wednesday had a .435 batting average on balls in play buoyed by an average exit velocity of 94 mph.
With a patient approach and one of the better batting eyes on the team, Kim has also given the Orioles a presence near the top of the order they've been searching for this season.
Showalter seems to like the speed and defense Joey Rickard brings off the bench as the 25-year-old outfielder regroups from his lengthy skid, meaning there’s going to be more opportunities for Kim to continue his adjustment to the majors.
“The everyday play allowed me to be more comfortable up there and perform better,” Kim said after Wednesday’s game, via interpreter Danny Lee.
“I’m not trying to keep the average [up], but I’m trying my best to make better hits out there. And definitely, by seeing a lot more balls by the pitchers allows me to be a lot more adapted, by seeing balls out there.”