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Korean Sensation Kim Shines in Los Angeles Dodgers – Padres Season Opener Homecoming

SportsKorean Sensation Kim Shines in Los Angeles Dodgers - Padres Season Opener Homecoming

SEOUL, South Korea: Ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres opening Major League Baseball with their first regular season games in South Korea, Shohei Ohtani has drawn the most attention.

However, Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who is returning to the Gocheok Sky Dome after a stellar season, is also celebrating a victorious homecoming in the two-game series that begins on Wednesday.

Prior to joining San Diego in 2020, Kim spent seven seasons as a player for the Kiwoom Heroes. He downplayed concerns that Ohtani, the Dodgers’ recently acquired Japanese star, was taking center stage and insisted that his main goal was getting his team out to a strong start against division rivals.

It is only natural for a team to receive more attention when an MVP-caliber player joins. After working out at the stadium on Tuesday, Kim remarked, “Our team has a lot of good players, too, and I think Korean fans will just love the fact that Major League Baseball is being played in Seoul.”

“I’m concentrating on taking care of myself since the big games begin tomorrow. I need to do well because I prepared myself this year with a lot of effort.

Kim established himself as one of the top defensive infielders in the National League last season, hitting.260 with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 38 steals. As a utility player, he became the first infielder from East Asia to win a Gold Glove.

The Padres missed the playoffs despite having a club assembled via years of lavish spending, finishing 82-20 and third in the NL West behind the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Star outfielder Juan Soto was traded to the New York Yankees by the front office when controlling owner Peter Seidler passed away in November, and significant expenditures on free agents were avoided. The NL Cy Young Award winner and former staff ace Blake Snell is in negotiations to sign a contract with the San Francisco Giants, who are in the division rivalry.

Kim was praised by teammates on occasion for fielding groundballs deep in the hole and firing accurately to first base during a voluntary workout on Tuesday. Kim primarily practiced double-play techniques and fielded balls from shortstop.

“Our chemistry will improve if I perform well because Bogaerts is such a good player,” Kim remarked. “We are a close group and see each other more often than our families. Because of the hard work that our players have put in, I believe that we will surpass last year’s record. We can get closer to winning a championship if we keep fighting.

Kim has performed well in drills this week against South Korean professional athletes. On Monday, he hit two home runs off pitchers he has faced for years against the LG Twins, the current KBO champions.

Ohtani missed Tuesday’s optional exercise on the field. Ohtani was 0 for 5 in his two preseason games against Korean opponents in Seoul. After making his initial 16 appearances at shortstop last season, Mookie Betts fielded hit balls from that position this season.

The Dodgers’ opening-day starter, Tyler Glasnow, tossed long tosses from the outfield. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, another Japanese star Los Angeles hired in the winter, was warming up for Game 2 nearby as he went through his strange training drills, which included throwing tiny javelins and bounding rubber balls off the outfield wall.

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