SARASOTA, FLA. — It's no secret that South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim has been struggling to adjust to major league pitching this spring. But Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Wednesday's multihit performance against the Pittburgh Pirates that Kim looked more like the player he saw on video before signing him.
Showalter met with Kim on Tuesday night along with Kim's interpreter and former Korean major leaguer Hee Seop Choi, who has joined the Orioles as a guest coach in minor league camp this month.
"I talked to him a little yesterday when we got back," Showalter said Wednesday afternoon. "Not him, but his interpreter and him. It's tough with interpreters, because most of them haven't played the game. It's kind of like the context that you're putting something in in baseball mentality, you don't always know if it's being translated. And it's tough. Sometimes the translator you have means a lot. We found that with [Wei-Yin Chen].
"… Having Choi there in the meeting last night, his English isn't a whole lot better but at least he comprehends what I'm trying to get across to him. If [Kim] fires a fastball down the left field line, that's OK."
Showalter was referring to his desire to see Kim hit the ball the other way more, something he did twice in Wednesday's game. He still hasn't been hitting the ball hard, but he has five hits in his past 11 at-bats and has reached base in eight of his past 16 plate appearances.
The Orioles manager now wonders if he might have made a mistake putting Kim into a batting practice group with some of the Orioles' big power guys. Kim might have been trying too hard to drive the ball and got out of his normal mechanics.
"In fact I was showing him some tape of his at-bats in Korea and he actually had two or three of those at-bats today just like that," Showalter said. "So I don't expect him to come out here and take batting practice like that group he was in. Looking back on it, probably wasn't a good idea. But today was the first time -- not the first time -- but overall at-bats looked like the guy that we had seen. I'm anxious to see where it goes, but he had a good look in his eye today."