Orioles still trying to convince Hyun Soo Kim to accept minor league assignment

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles met again today with Hyun Soo Kim while trying to gauge whether he’s willing to accept a minor league assignment.

It’s the third meeting with the South Korean outfielder, who took batting practice and later will occupy a seat on the bench, his last start coming on Saturday.

The sense within the organization is that Kim remains leery of surrendering his place on the 25-man roster. He would have to break camp with the team or be released and collect his salary.

The opening day roster must be set Sunday at noon.

kim-outisde-in-rain-sidebar.jpgThe Orioles view an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk as an extension of spring training, which would provide Kim with needed at-bats and instruction, along with more time to get adapted to the U.S.

“It’s a short transition period coming to Baltimore, too, and I wish we had more time,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “In Korea, the pro clubs train for 10 weeks to prepare for a season, but here it’s just half that time.”

Kim signed a two-year, $7 million contract in December after 10 seasons with the Doosan Bears in the Korean Baseball Organization. He recently told reporters that he remained happy with his decision.

The issue, of course, has been an overall lack of production and whether Kim will be able to make the necessary adjustments. He’s struggled to adapt to the higher-velocity fastballs at the major league level and went 0-for-23 before collecting eight hits in his last 21 at-bats.

Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard made the club and could take Kim’s place as the starting left fielder.

“It was a razor thin roster call, choosing another player given Kim’s distinguished track record,” Duquette said.

The Orioles want Kim to understand that they aren’t experiencing buyer’s remorse, and also have stressed that they always use more than 25 players in season. They used 48 in 2015 and have topped 50 in previous years.

“The Orioles are happy Kim is on board, but we feel the player needs more at-bats to prepare for the season, which unfortunately we don’t have now in Baltimore and it’s the reason the club requested that the player consider an optional assignment,” Duquette said. “We recognize player rights and are glad to have him in the organization. We all look forward to his contributions to the club after he’s had more time to adjust to his new surroundings.

“All the club is asking him to do is take more time. We’re glad to have him in the organization. The organization is fine with him.”

Kim declined to be interviewed yesterday and has made only brief appearances in the clubhouse this week while the media is allowed inside.

Manager Buck Showalter didn’t have much of an update on Kim today. He’s focused on trying to set the roster with so many moving parts complicating the process.

“Frankly, there’s always something new after a conversation, but nothing that’s going to be new today,” he said. “There’s some things going around that everybody’s considering. There are some options there, so we’ll bring that to pass at some point. We all know what Sunday at noon means.”

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