Finding Ha-Seong Kim regular at-bats early in the season could be challenging for San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler. The Korean import was one of many high points of the offseason for the team, who inked the infielder to a four-year, $28 million deal.
By the time the team reported to camp, the team not only had Kim, but also last season’s NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Jake Cronenworth and utility presence Jurickson Profar. Shortstop belongs to Fernando Tatis Jr., who appears to be alright after suffering an injury scare earlier this week.
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He hasn’t done anything to force his way into the conversation this spring, either, struggling in a big way at the dish. The Padres aren’t worried – but the results haven’t been there, to say the least.
"“We have zero panic, just because of the way he’s going about his business, the way he sees the ball, the balance,” Tingler told MLB.com. “There’s some adjustments to be made, and he’s working on those things.”"
Writing off a player just because he had a tough spring is just foolish. But given the other options that are in the mix, if Kim is going to want the chance to play regularly, he’ll need to show he can hang.
Padres: Ha-Seong Kim will get his chances
He’ll get those chances. And a lot of folks believe he’ll make the most of those opportunities when they come.
Here’s what Jim Callis of MLB.com had to say when picking Kim as his choice for National League Rookie of the Year this season.
"It’s unclear exactly where Kim will get at-bats in San Diego’s lineup, but he will get them. He signed a four-year, $28 million contract after starring in Korea’s KBO League. Kim can hit for power, control the strike zone and steal a few bases while possessing the tools to play a variety of positions. I could see him batting .275/.350/.450 with 15 homers and a like number of steals."
If he can bring that type of presence to this roster, the Padres will have one of the deepest lineup mixes on a daily basis. It won’t matter how Tingler mixes and matches or plays matchups when filling out the lineup card. He’ll have the weapons at his disposal to lay waste to opposing pitching staffs.
So far, the early returns haven’t been great. With Opening Day right around the corner, let’s hope Kim can get it going and become a critical part of this club’s roster.