"I'm very happy to be on the roster, and I will try my best to make it up to the coaching staff and organization [for giving me] the chance," Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
A week of roster intrigue and public posturing regarding the roster status of outfielder Hyun Soo Kim ended with precisely the opposite outcome the Orioles initially had striven for.
Kim refused the team's request that he accept an assignment to the minors, and now must continue what has been a difficult transition from life and baseball in his native South Korea to the U.S. while occupying a spot on the 25-man major league roster.
Manager Buck Showalter said Sunday that he would use Kim as he would any other player, and that Kim is "in a good place" after having his roster status play out publicly all week.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette said the opportunities Kim would have going forward with the team were Showalter's decision.
"We'll have to wait and see how that develops," Duquette said.
The Orioles' only remaining roster move Sunday was to pick two of Kim, outfielder Nolan Reimold and nonroster outfielder Xavier Avery. The team had asked Kim to accept an option to the minors to continue his adjustment to American baseball after he hit .182 and didn't have a hit in his first 24 spring training plate appearances.
When he refused, Avery was sent to Triple-A Norfolk, and the roster was set to include Kim.
On Tuesday, team officials said that wouldn't be the case. After days of reports that Kim wouldn't end up on the 25-man roster, Duquette confirmed as much on both the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcast of Tuesday's game, and then to reporters in Sarasota, Fla.
But the two-year, $7 million contract Kim signed in December as an international free agent mandates that he must give his permission before he can be sent to the minors. When asked, through interpreter Danny Lee, whether he had considered a demotion, Kim said: "Not very much."
As the days wore on, it became clear that wasn't in Kim's plans. On Thursday, Duquette explained in a text message to reporters that the Orioles were excited to have Kim on their roster and respected his rights as a player but felt he needed more time.
"We asked him to take some more time to get the at-bats that we felt he needed to show the form that he had shown in international competitions," Duquette said Sunday. "It was his option, and we asked for his consent because we thought that was the best way to prepare him, that he needed more time on that transition. He didn't see it that way.
"The good news is, if he hits like it says he can hit in the book, I think that we have a need for a left-handed hitter on our roster, and hopefully, the next part of his hitting will be a stronger sample than what we saw in the spring," Duquette said.
The front office delivered a three-month storm of spending that vaulted the Orioles from 17th in the league in payroll in 2015 to a projected 11th at $142 million in 2016. And to pay for the spending, the Orioles raised ticket prices across the board. Big contracts often create big expectations and pressure to win.
Kim, before the team's Sunday afternoon workout at Camden Yards, said he's "very happy to be on the roster, and I will try my best to make it up to the coaching staff and organization [for giving me] the chance.
"The management has done what they had to do. There's nothing that I have feelings about that, and I'm going to try to do whatever I have been doing here before, to show the fans and others who have been watching me what I can do."
Asked whether he felt he earned his spot on the major league roster, Kim and Lee had nearly a minute-long conversation before Lee said Kim hadn't considered it.
"I'm just trying my best to stay in the team," Kim said. "I haven't really thought about that."
Kim worked out every day with the team over the last two weeks of spring training but played sparingly as others got looks in the outfield.
But Showalter said that between Grapefruit League and minor league games, Kim had 64 plate appearances — as many as he'd get in a typical Korean spring.
"We thought there was a good chance he'd be on our club at some point, and maybe to start the season," Showalter said. "You prepare for all those things. ... I'm going to use everybody. I think he's got a chance to contribute. We'll figure that out as we go, how that's going to be."
Kim said he was unsure how he would be received in his first Opening Day at Camden Yards, but believed that with the support of his teammates and the organization, he can perform like the career .318 left-handed hitter with plate discipline that he was in the Korea Baseball Organization.
Duquette said he didn't believe the last week created too much tension within the team, or between Kim and the Orioles.
"These are all management issues, and there's also player decisions that enter into it," Duquette said. "At the end of the day, we have 24 other players on the team, and the 24 other players are going to do everything they can to have the best team that we can have here. I'm sure Kim will do the same."
Here's the rest of the roster:
Starting pitchers: Chris Tillman, Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Wright.
Bullpen: Zach Britton, Darren O'Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Dylan Bundy, T.J. McFarland, Tyler Wilson, Vance Worley.
Infielders: First baseman Chris Davis, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop J.J. Hardy, utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, first baseman/designated hitter Pedro Alvarez.
Outfielders: Center fielder Adam Jones, right fielder Mark Trumbo, outfielder Joey Rickard, outfielder Nolan Reimold, and Kim.
Catchers: Matt Wieters, Caleb Joseph.
Three players — left-hander Brian Matusz (back), right-hander Kevin Gausman (shoulder) and outfielder Jimmy Paredes (wrist) — will begin the season on the disabled list.