Outfielder Hyun Soo Kim came to the Orioles with the reputation of being one of the most patient hitters in South Korea, and even though playing time has been scarce during his first three weeks in the majors, he's already learning that being more aggressive at the plate can pay off.
Kim made his third major league start in Saturday’s 8-3 win over the Kansas City Royals and recorded his second multihit game, also posting his first major league RBI with a two-out single in the second inning. In limited playing time, Kim has five hits in 10 at-bats, not including two walks.
“This is a guy who walked 100-plus times in Korea last year, and I think he’s kind of seeing that there’s a little more attack mode here,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He was telling me that six or seven out of 10 pitches he sees over there are breaking balls. And because of his reputation over there, guys pitched him kind of like how you see them pitch some of our guys when they’re swinging the bats. So it was tough for him initially when guys were really attacking him with a really more consistent velocity fastball early. But he’s made the adjustment. He’s smart. He’s studying and watching. That’s one of the good things about him.”
In his first at-bat Saturday, he took Kris Medlen’s first-pitch delivery, a 91-mph fastball, and looped it into shallow center field to drive in a run. In his fourth at-bat, he took a first-pitch knuckle curve from reliever Dillon Gee for a ball before hitting a sharp infield single on a second-pitch fastball.
“It has been quite a while since he has played in games, and I’m trying not to be hesitant in trying to face the pitchers, not taking to take too many pitches,” Kim said through translator Danny Lee. “I’m trying to hit aggressively out there, and that kind of led to good results.”
Kim said he also has made some slight mechanical adjustments. He feels like raising his arms in his stance as well as keeping his arms in tight while swinging at inside pitches have given him more power and fluidity in his swing.
“I definitely feel more relaxed when I’m up at the plate,” Kim said. “It can be said that I am being more aggressive because I’m getting more relaxed and I’m facing more pitchers. … I believe that the results are coming better than what I expected, but I am going to try harder to improve my swings so I can have better swings and better hits to be a better player.”
Wilson to start Thursday
After a strong performance in his first start of the season Saturday, right-hander Tyler Wilson will remain in the team’s starting rotation and start Thursday’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox.
That also means right-hander Vance Worley will remain in the bullpen as a long-relief option for the foreseeable future.
Wilson, who held the Royals to two runs over five innings, made the club as a reliever and allowed just one run over eight relief innings before making Saturday’s spot start. Because he had thrown no more than 44 pitches in his three previous relief outings, Wilson was held to 70 pitches Saturday.
The Orioles still must make a roster move before Monday’s game to activate right-hander Kevin Gausman from the 15-day disabled list. Because he has minor league options, Wilson was a candidate to be optioned to the minors to make room for Gausman, but Showalter said he will remain in the rotation.
Some other notes:
-- Rookie outfielder Joey Rickard is one of nine Orioles on this year’s All-Star Game ballots. All-Star Game voting, which is exclusively done online for the second straight season, began Sunday.
-- Shortstop J.J. Hardy received a day off Sunday as Ryan Flaherty received his first start at shortstop this season. Showalter said he wanted to give Hardy a day off before the Orioles went to Tampa Bay, where they will play on an artificial turf field that can be unforgiving on legs. “People miss the wear and tear that can create on players. That’s another challenge of playing in the American League East that I think people miss,” Showalter said.
-- Showalter said he joked to center fielder Adam Jones, who is regarded as a free swinger, about his career-high three walks. “I said, ‘Hey, a couple more of those days, and you’re going to be leading off,’” Showalter said.