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Ex-MLB outfielder Kim Hyun-soo ready to hit anywhere in new club's lineup

All Headlines 14:39 March 22, 2018

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- When it comes to his place in the batting order for the LG Twins, outfielder Kim Hyun-soo says he is ready to hit anywhere.

The man they call "Hitting Machine," for his ability to put the ball in play, is back in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) this year, after two seasons split between the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies. Though his major league career never took off, Kim should still be one of the best contact hitters in the domestic league.

In this file photo taken on March 13, 2018, Kim Hyun-soo of the LG Twins gets a base hit against the Lotte Giants in their Korea Baseball Organization preseason game at Sajik Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Before leaving for the United States, Kim put up a career .318 batting average in 10 seasons with the Doosan Bears, at the time the second-highest mark among active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. He often batted second or third for the Bears.

During the preseason earlier this month, LG manager Ryu Joong-il used Kim in the second and fifth spots in his lineup. Different spots in the batting order confer different responsibilities to hitters, but Kim said Thursday it's entirely up to Ryu where he bats.

"I don't really worry about my spot in the batting order, and I don't have any preference," Kim told reporters before the start of the KBO's annual media day in Seoul. "Wherever he puts me in the lineup, I'll try to be the best hitter for that particular spot."

Kim had some gaudy numbers in his most recent KBO season in 2015, with career-highs of 28 home runs, 121 RBIs, 103 runs scored and 101 walks. And if the Twins were to return to the postseason, after missing out on it last year, Kim will have to be just as productive.

Though the sample size is too small to carry much significance, Kim batted a robust .429 (9-for-21) in seven preseason games. Only eight preseason games were scheduled for each team in what was the shortest spring in the KBO, and the Twins had one game rained out last week.

"I wish we'd all played a bit more in preseason," Kim said. "But I don't want to make this an excuse. I'll still try to do well in the regular season."

Despite adding Kim to the lineup, and his former Orioles' teammate, right-hander Tyler Wilson, to the rotation, the Twins aren't regarded as playoff contenders for 2018.

Kim said the feeling within the Twins' club house is much different.

"I think the pundits are underestimating our team," Kim said. "We have a confident bunch here, and I hope we don't lose that confidence over the rest of the season."

Kim Hyun-soo of the LG Twins watches his fly ball against the Nexen Heroes in their Korea Baseball Organization preseason game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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