The Orioles faced off against their AL East rival, the Boston Red Sox today at home in Sarasota, and LHP Henry Owens was who the Sox were starting. This was the lineup that Buck Showalter happened to put out there:
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) March 1, 2017
See anyone missing?
Buck Showalter had said earlier in the offseason he wanted to see Hyun Soo Kim get more time against LHP this season, so of course for the very first game against a lefty in Spring Training, you would think Kim’s name would be in the lineup, maybe batting lower in the order, but still in there right?
Nope, Kim was on the bench, and he wasn’t really on the bench as he wasn’t even listed as an available reserve.
I checked in with MASN’s Roch Kubatko to see if he was somehow injured:
@JTrea81 There's no news.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) March 1, 2017
Now it’s just one game, but you have to remember Kim skipped playing for his country, South Korea, in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in order to show loyalty to the team that signed him, likely so he could also get some time against LHP in return. That’s a big deal because of the pressure he had to honor his country back home.
Buck also had this to say about Kim facing LHP after the first Spring Training game:
“This time of the year, it’s so hard to predict guys you’re going to see.”
And yet he knew Owens, a lefty was starting today. It was a lock.
So the first game Kim’s got an opportunity to show something against a LHP he’s benched? At a home game as well?
That’s a bush league move.
Now Kim did badly misplay a fly ball that wound up being a triple against the Yankees a few games ago, but the run didn’t score. Buck hates blunders on defense though so Kim found his way into Buck’s doghouse once again it seems and missed an opportunity against a LHP because of it.
I think at this point though Kim would have actually seen more left-handed pitching in the WBC because his manager would actually play him against lefties instead of minimizing his potential.
It’s not like the Orioles have anything to lose by having Kim face LHP seeing as he did have some success in the KBO against them. If he can hit them, it allows the Orioles to be able to play him in LF full time instead of having to carry two platoons and hurting the roster flexibility. Buck Showalter has everything to gain by hitting Kim against every LHP he can face, and the best part is the games don’t count.
Spring Training is a chance for teams to not only make sure their players get prepared for the season, but to experiment. For Buck Showalter it seems, it’s time to once again try to prove a point that Kim is the least wanted player he has on his roster.
Let’s all hope Kim finds his way out of Buck’s doghouse sooner than last Spring Training.
Top image: CC Image courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr