This twist… Kim Ha-sung’s changed status, ‘position demotion’ becomes a superstar mentor of 373 billion, “It will be unfamiliar to defend second base.”

Kim Ha-sung started as the fifth shortstop in an exhibition game against the Seattle Mariners in the 2024 Major League Baseball at Peoria Stadium in Peoria, Arizona on the 4th (Korea time) and played one hit (one homer) and two RBIs and one run in three times at bat.

His first two at-bats didn’t work out. He took the lead in the second inning when his team was losing 0-2, met Seattle starter Luis Castillo and grounded out to the third base, and took the lead again in the fourth inning when his team took a 3-2 lead, and retired with a straight hit to the shortstop against Carlos Vargas.

His last at-bat was different. He had a chance to hit the first base with no outs due to Manny Machado’s heavy hit in the fifth inning when his team was leading 5-3. Kim Ha-sung met right-hander Colin Snyder and reported a two-run homer in the left-center field that drove away with a big arch. It was his first homer in six exhibition games.

Kim Ha-sung finished the game in a good mood, replacing his opponent Mason McCoy at the start of the sixth inning. Since he was showing off a good batting sense, his batting average in the exhibition game fell from 444% to 4017.

After hitting the home run, Kim Ha-sung told , “I’m in good condition. I feel much more comfortable and better prepared for the camp for the fourth year than the first year,” adding, “I lost a lot of weight last year because I felt physically tired at the end of last year. I built up to overcome those challenges.”

Kim Ha-sung moved from shortstop to second base last season and has emerged as an indispensable infielder in his team. He played the leadoff role for San Diego Padres and posted a career high of 266 homers, 60 RBIs, 84 runs and 38 steals in 152 games, and was so energetic that he challenged the team to hit 20 homers and 40 steals for the first time in Asia.

Kim Ha-sung also showed off his solid defense and was named a second baseman in the National League Gold Glove and a finalist in the utility category for the second consecutive year, and succeeded in winning the Gold Glove Award for the first time in Korea and the second time in Asia in the utility category.

Kim Ha-sung said, “I’m so honored to be the first Korean to receive a gold glove. I had a hard time in my first year, but I invested a lot in defense, and I’ve been able to endure it well so far because of defense. I’m grateful,” he reflected on last year.

When asked which part of defense or offense he is more proud of, he replied, “First of all, I feel good to receive a gold glove in defense, but I’m also growing a little every year in offense, so I’m feeling good. I hope you look forward to it because I still have a lot to show you.”

Kim Ha-sung, who became a reserve FA after a long period of patience, pushed out Xander Bogaerts, a 373 billion won superstar, before the 2024 season to regain his position as shortstop. He is already showing signs of a big hit in FA by displaying strong batting performances day after day. The only game that he played in six games so far that he failed to get a hit was against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. He garnered a walk from the game on Sunday, and successfully got on base in all games.

On returning to shortstop, Kim Ha-sung said, “I have a lot of responsibility, not feeling good. There are many players in our team who can see shortstop, such as Tatis Jr., Machado, Cronenworth, Bogaerts, and Merrill. They are all good at defense. It’s an honor to see shortstop in the meantime. I think I need to do better.”

Kim Ha-sung is further carrying out a mentor mission for Bogaerts, who is unfamiliar with the defense of the second baseman. “Bogaerts has a good sense of defense, but it may be unfamiliar to see a second baseman because he only sees shortstop throughout his career,” he said. “So I ask myself or Cronenworth a lot,” he said. “I think it’s great for such a great player to play second base and ask for difficulties for the team.”

I was also able to hear some advice for Ko Woo-suk, a junior who started playing for San Diego this year. “I don’t have much to advise because I’m a beast, but I’m trying to help as much as I can in terms of life and adaptation,” Kim Ha-sung said. “I think Ko will do well because he came to the U.S. with a very good career in Korea. The Padres will be a huge help to win.”

As the MLB World Tour Seoul Series is decided to be a showdown between San Diego and Dodgers, Kim Ha-sung will visit Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 20th and 21st to play two consecutive games against the Dodgers. Coincidentally, Gocheok Sky Dome is a stadium that Kim Ha-sung used as his home stadium when he was a Heroes.

“It’s such an honor to play in Korea. It’s all the more so because it’s my home stadium that I played in Korea. I’m excited and excited to play there with good teammates while wearing a Major League uniform,” Kim said. “Korea is also a country that is passionate about baseball. It has a good fan culture. I hope (Padres fans) enjoy it together,” he said, expressing his excitement ahead of his visit to his hometown.

BY: 토토

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