Outfielder Hyun Soo Kim conceded he was "a little bit relieved for all the things I've been going through" after collecting his first spring training hit in 24 at-bats, an infield single to shortstop in the seventh inning of the Orioles' 4-4 tie with the New York Yankees on Thursday.
Kim, who was signed out of the Korean Baseball Organization on a two-year contract this season, was becoming an unwelcome storyline for the winless Orioles this spring training. Some projections had him as the team's starting left fielder, and a productive one at that after he enjoyed plenty of success in South Korea.
But with every game, his hitless streak grew longer.
Manager Buck Showalter said after the game that "everybody was pulling for him." Kim thought they were even more excited than he was.
"They were cheering for my first hit," Kim said through translator Danny Lee. "They loved what I did out there."
Kim still believes he has more to show, refusing to say that his most productive at-bats of the spring were his best. He also was hit by a pitch, reaching base for the first time this spring in the fourth inning.
"I don't think today was the best," Kim said. "I still have a lot of room to show my abilities. I'm trying to look out for more."
Showalter drew an interesting parallel to a player who went through similar struggles after coming to the majors from South Korea last season — Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang.
Kang didn't start as slowly in his first spring training as Kim did, but just as Kim did, he endured a 1-for-24 stretch from March 5-27 last year in spring training. Kang ended the season third in National League Rookie of the Year voting, hitting .287/.355/.461 with 15 home runs.
"I was talking to somebody with the Pirates, talking about Kang, how slow he started for them last spring," Showalter said. "You need to keep it in mind, think about all the adjustments he's going through."