DETROIT — Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim's season of adjustments is putting another in his path. His once-regular role as the big half of an outfield platoon, playing against all right-handed pitching, diminishes in the name of getting starts for Steve Pearce.
For Kim, who spent the first two months of the season playing essentially once a week as he put a miserable spring training behind him before earning and thriving in a more regular role, the early season experience is one he can draw from as the starts dry up.
"I definitely feel that this is all different kinds of experiences that I've been through, not being able to play every day like how I did my whole career in Korea," Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. "Those are definitely helping me to get prepared and get ready for this very important last month of the season."
Kim started Friday and had a hit in three at-bats, though he was robbed of a home run, by inches, when left fielder Justin Upton reached above the wall in the third inning. Upton just missed a diving catch on a shallow fly ball in the eighth inning, which Kim turned into a double.
"Regardless of playing time, I still feel like I'm being lucky to get those hits that aren't supposed to be hits," Kim said. "That those are happening are helping me in every way possible, but there are ways I can improve on. I make sure I improve whenever I need to to make sure I'm a better player."
Kim is batting .311 with four home runs and 15 RBIs with an .809 OPS in 78 games this season. Friday was just his second start in the Orioles' past seven games. Kim said even when he doesn't play, it's up to him to stay ready.
"I just get prepared and make sure I'm ready to go on an everyday basis," Kim said. "It doesn't really matter if Steve gets to start or I get to start. It's about how well you prepare when you're actually prepared to play."