CLEARWATER, FLA. — As Hyun Soo Kim's hitless streak grew to 21 at-bats following an 0-for-3 outing in the Orioles' 8-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday afternoon, the club is remaining hopeful that the South Korean outfielder will break out of his early spring slump sooner than later. But it's growing evident that the Orioles are getting just as frustrated with Kim's struggles.
"It's just, I know what 0-for-whatever looks like," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You look at things other than that. He is pressing. I think there are some things you'll see look a lot differently when he gets a couple under his belt, but this is the big leagues. It's competitive and it's unforgiving. It's an unforgiving place."
On Wednesday at Bright House Field, Kim couldn't catch a break. He hit a line drive to the left-field warning track in his first at-bat. Phillies first baseman Darin Ruf made a nice play on a sharp bouncer to retire Kim in his second at-bat, and in his third at-bat, Kim hit a high flyout to right field.
"He's put the ball in play," Showalter said. "I'm not going to paint that everything is [great]. It's not, it ain't, if I went by just what I saw. Let it play out. It's March . There's plenty of time, and I don't know. I'm going to keep running him out there and see what happens. If we don't like it at the end, we'll make an adjustment. If we like it, there's a chance he goes [north]."
The 28-year-old Kim has struck out just three times, so he's making contact. But he hasn't drawn a walk and plate discipline was one of his fortes in South Korea. All in all, he has looked uncomfortable at the plate, nothing like the players who was one of the best hitters in the Korean Baseball Organization for the past decade.
"Video tape's a big fooler," Showalter said. "There's no way you can simulate the competition he's facing now compared to what he was. Nobody can really say exactly what that level was, but I don't want to beat him up. I don't want him to start thinking this is something that he hasn't experienced before. He's faced a lot of good pitching in his career, and I try to keep in mind how fooling spring training can be. Teammates, I see them trying to talk to him. He's pushing."
Kim has started in seven of the Orioles' 10 Grapefruit League games — mainly because the club wanted to give him plenty of time to adjust to major league pitching — but some of those at-bats might start to go away soon.
Showalter suggested that Kim might play in Thursday's "B" game on the back fields of the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
"We've got 57, 58 other players, too," Showalter said. "I take each day and I go, 'What gets us closer to being the best Baltimore team we can be?' If it's [continuing] to play him, then I will. I was going to wait after the game today and see what we're going to do tomorrow. I've got two lineups for the 'B' game. Would a 'B' game base hit count?"
Around the horn: The Orioles' one-year deal with slugger Pedro Alvarez is expected to be completed on Thursday morning, according to an industry source. The club's review of Alvarez's club physical was nearly complete on Wednesday night, and Alvarez could participate in his first workout with the team on Thursday. ... Right-hander Mike Wright will start Friday's game against the New York Yankees in Tampa. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will start for the Yankees. … Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will make his third Grapefruit League start Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. Right-hander Phil Hughes will start for Minnesota.