Orioles still aiming to sign Kim

In spite of the international drama their pursuit of South Korean 17-year-old Kim Seong-min caused over the past several weeks, the Orioles still plan on signing the left-handed pitching prospect once he becomes available, a team source said.

More than 30 days have passed since Major League Baseball's commissioner's office ruled it would not approve the contract of Kim because of a breach in protocol —the Orioles did not conduct a proper status check on Kim through the commissioner's office.

The Orioles are waiting for clearance to follow proper protocols to sign Kim, and once the team receives permission, it will pursue another contract with the pitcher.

The signing prompted a maelstrom of outrage from the Korean Baseball Organization and the Korean Baseball Association, which labeled the move as an example of the United States fleecing South Korea of its young baseball talent. Orioles scouts are reportedly still banned by the KBA from amateur baseball events in South Korea, but it's difficult to enforce that rule.

Kim was training in Los Angeles in preparation for minor league spring training in Sarasota, but once his contract was not approved, he went home. He's been suspended from playing baseball South Korea.

The Orioles still believe Kim, who was initially signed to a reported $550,000 bonus, is a rare talent that could be in the majors by the time he turns 22. He turns 18 next month.

Becoming an American citizen

Orioles batting practice pitcher Rudy Arias left the team Thursday to travel to Miami and be sworn in as a United States citizen on Friday. Arias, 55, moved to the U.S. from Cuba when he was just a few years old and his father was playing baseball in the states. He grew up in Miami and maintained his Cuban citizenship.

But for both personal and professional reasons —traveling to Canada, for instance, requires additional time at customs —Arias decided to take the U.S. citizenship test. It's especially important to Arias because his father, who is 80, will be at Friday's ceremony

"It's great, to me, my family. My dad always wanted me to be an American citizen because my sister was born here," he said. "I love (Cuba), and all the history behind it, but I've lived here all of my life and I'm thrilled and honored."

To commemorate the milestone, Orioles equipment manager Jimmy Tyler gave Arias a U.S. flag pendant to pin on his uniform Thursday. It will be a big few weeks for Arias. On April 21, he will be inducted into the Miami High Hall of Fame.

Orioles beat Twins 11-1

In their best offensive performance of the spring, the Orioles on Thursday scored a season-high 11 runs on 14 hits, including homers by Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis and Trent Mummey. Betemit had three hits and so did center field prospect Xavier Avery, who had two doubles, a single, a RBI and two runs scored.

"It felt good, obviously, three knocks, great day. And I played good defense," said the 22-year-old Avery, who played all last season at Double-A Bowie. "It gives me a lot of confidence to the point where I feel I can play up here every day in the big leagues. It's great getting confidence from being up here."

Much of the damage came against Minnesota starter Carl Pavano, who allowed eight hits and six earned runs in four innings pitched.

Around the horn

Due to an accident and road construction on Interstate 75, manager Buck Showalter didn't make it to the ballpark for Thursday's game until a few minutes before first pitch. … Chris Tillman struck out all three batters he faced in one inning Thursday. … Tillman, Dana Eveland, Jim Johnson and Pat Neshek combined for four scoreless relief innings.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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