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Orioles' Kim Hyun-soo refuses minor league assignment: agency

All Headlines 09:31 April 01, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean outfielder Kim Hyun-soo of the Baltimore Orioles has refused a minor league assignment, his Seoul-based agency said Friday.

Leeco Sports Agency said Kim has informed the Major League Baseball (MLB) club that he hopes to remain in the majors "as stated in his contract." The Orioles have been openly pressuring the struggling player to accept the assignment to the minors, but under the terms of Kim's two-year, US$7 million deal, the club needs the player's consent to make that move.

"Kim would like to see his contract honored and executed faithfully," the agency said in a statement. "He also hopes to receive fair opportunities to continue his career as a major leaguer with Baltimore."

The ball is now in the Orioles' court. They can either keep him on their roster or release him outright, in which case they will be on the hook for the remainder of Kim's contract. The Opening Day roster must be set by noon Sunday.

A perennial All-Star with the Doosan Bears in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) over the past several seasons, Kim joined the Orioles with hopes of becoming their everyday left fielder.

The 28-year-old got off to a rocky start in his first spring training, going 0-for-23 before picking up his first hit. He has batted .182 with no extra-base hits in 44 at-bats, and hasn't played since last Saturday. He has also been mediocre in the outfield.

Over the past week or so, Dan Duquette, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, and manager Buck Showalter have told local media that Kim was unlikely to make their 25-man big league roster, apparently pressuring him to accept the assignment to the minors. Showalter has also said he wouldn't play Kim in spring training games until the situation is resolved. He has noted that there were "some other guys outperforming him," and he was trying to take the best 25 players to the start of the season.

Kim has been outplayed by Joey Rickard, a career minor leaguer and a Rule 5 draft pick, and Nolan Reimold, among 11 players to handle left field for the Orioles last season.

Rickard was added to the 25-man roster Wednesday. He's hitting .387 this spring through Thursday.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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