LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Hyun Soo Kim’s new world began in the middle of Disney World. Kim was hitless in three at-bats, but otherwise had a debut that went smoothly on Tuesday.
Kim was removed after his third at-bat in the sixth inning.
“I could have done better. I didn't put my best performance out there. I wish I can do better next time,” Kim said through his interpreter.
Manager Buck Showalter enjoyed watching his new left fielder play
“It’s good to get this one under his belt. He’ll probably play again tomorrow,” Showalter said.
Kim and the Orioles had some fans among the 4.655 at Champion Stadium. A few Korean flags were spotted.
“I wasn’t really expecting to see a lot of fans that were here to see me performing. It was a pleasant surprise, and I will try actually to show what I can do to return what the fans are giving me throughout the baseball games,” Kim said.
“I was nervous a bit and thought too much going into the plate. I was thinking about too many movements of the pitcher's pitches, and I wasn't able to really perform the best.”
On Wednesday, the Orioles will again face the Atlanta Braves, but they’ll have Kim and most of their regulars in the lineup for their first home game.
They took a 4-0 lead in the third thanks to a two-run home run by Ryan Flaherty and played to a 4-4 10-inning tie.
Flaherty, who had three hits in this weekend’s intrasquad games including a bunt single.
“He’s a guy you can trust. He knows how to play and you know what you’re going to get from him. Those guys are hard to find. One of those things that analytics doesn’t show up is the trust factor, where their fingers don’t shake when it’s on the trigger, and Ryan’s one of those guys,” Showalter said.
Flaherty says that he’s hitting as well as can be expected for facing three days of live pitching.
“I think every guy’s in a different position. For a lot of guys in camp come in ready. Those other guys have time to get ready in camp. There’s other guys who come to camp. You’ve got to be ready. Try to do as much as you can in the offseason and get ready,” Flaherty said.
During a pause in the action in the fourth inning, Flaherty and former teammate Nick Markakis, both left-handers joked about hitting to the opposite field.
“I think when I’m hitting the ball the other way is probably when I’m hitting my best.”
Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson, who are in effect competing for the final bullpen spot, combined for three scoreless innings.
“I felt really good. It’s probably one of the best spring training games I think I’ve ever had. It felt really solid,” Wright said.
“I still have a little bit to work on. My location wasn’t the best. My [velocity] was good, so sometimes that kind of trumps the hitters this early in the year. I know I’ve got to get a little better before the season starts.”
Wilson pitched the third inning after Wright worked the first, and he may pitch one of Saturday’s split-squad games. Showalter is skipping Chris Tillman as a precaution because of his hip flexor, but Tillman is expected to start next week.
“The first game is always exciting. It’s so good to get out there and toe it up and compete against another team, another uniform. There’s nothing like getting experience. You can throw as many bullpens as you want, train as much as you want in the offseason, but that type of competition and that sense of competing and getting outs is the most important type of reps you can get,” Wilson said.
Early spring training games aren’t usually memorable, but the Kim debut made this one stand out-at least a little.
“I believe there aren't that many things that are too much different from Korea. But I assumed there would be much different going into the game,” Kim said.
NOTES: Christian Walker drove in three runs with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.
-Ubaldo Jimenez starts against the Braves’ Aaron Blair on Wednesday.
MORE ORIOLES: Hyun Soo Kim makes uneventful Orioles debut