South Korean OF Kim plays in first major league game

BALTIMORE (AP) The wait was worth it for South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim.

Kim ended a difficult week by getting his first start in the major leagues on Sunday, and he took full advantage of the opportunity.

Batting ninth and playing left field for the Orioles, the 28-year-old got two infield hits against the Tampa Bay Rays before leaving for a pinch runner in the seventh inning of Baltimore's 5-3 victory.

''Today was a nervous day,'' Kim said through an interpreter. ''I tried to focus on just making contact about the pitches I am seeing because it has been quite a while. So that was the main focus for me.''

He went 2 for 3, scored a run and played flawlessly in the field.

Kim was a star in the Korean Baseball Organization before signing a two-year, $7 million contract in December.

After Kim struggled during spring training, the Orioles wanted him to start the season in the minors. But Kim's contract enabled him to decline the assignment, which he did.

Because Kim essentially forced Baltimore to carry him on the 25-man roster, he received a mixture of cheers and jeers Monday when introduced on opening day.

On Sunday, Kim became the Orioles' final position player to get into a game. And all he heard was applause before his first at-bat.

''Going back to opening day there was a slight booing for me. So that was slightly in my mind,'' he said. ''All I thought about going into the game was, `Try not to get booed anymore.' That ovation basically helped me get relief from it. It was a good start for me.''

Kim made a pair of catches in his first in-game exposure to the short porch in left at Camden Yards.

''He had some tough plays out there, being in an outfield he's never been in,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''I think everybody takes a lot of satisfaction in getting him out there and feeling a part of it.''

Baltimore won its first four games of the season before this one, and the last thing Kim wanted was to be part of the team's first loss.

''I am really excited that the team is winning throughout, is undefeated,'' he said. ''I was slightly concerned the team might lose today with me in it. So to make sure that didn't happen, I tried my best.''

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