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After failed MLB bid, slugger eager for 2nd opportunity

All News 17:03 January 30, 2020

INCHEON, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- He may be down, but he is far from out.

South Korean slugger Kim Jae-hwan failed to sign a major league deal via the posting system this offseason, but the 31-year-old said Thursday he hasn't given up on his big league dreams.

"I've always dreamed of playing in Major League Baseball," Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport, before departing for Australia for spring training with his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, Doosan Bears.

"Right now, I have to focus on getting ready for the 2020 season, and if I do well this year, I'll take another shot at the majors," Kim added.

In this file photo from July 31, 2019, Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears reacts after striking out against the NC Dinos in the top of the seventh inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Kim was posted in December but his presence in the open market generated little buzz. The Miami Marlins briefly showed interested in the outfielder/designated hitter but pulled themselves out of the picture after signing outfielder Corey Dickerson.

Kim won the KBO's regular season MVP in 2018 thanks to league-leading totals of 44 home runs and 133 RBIs, as well as a robust .334/.405/.657 line. But in 2019, Kim only managed 15 home runs and 91 RBIs, while batting .283/.362/.434.

The KBO's switch to a heavier ball, brought in to curb the offensive explosion, was blamed for Kim's quiet year. But he said it was his shoddy mechanics, not the ball, that caused his season-long slump.

"I've been studying some video and trying to get back to the swing from my better seasons," Kim added.

While awaiting an offer from major league clubs, Kim trained in Los Angeles for a month. He said he had a close look at Milwaukee Brewers' star Christian Yelich, the 2018 National League MVP.

"It was my first time working out in the U.S., and it was a great experience," Kim said. "Hopefully, the work I've put in will lead to strong numbers."

In this file photo from Nov. 11, 2019, Kim Jae-hwan of South Korea watches his three-run home run against the United States in the bottom of the first inning of the teams' Super Round game at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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