“I honestly hated it when I saw other positions besides shortstop in Korea, but that moment was a springboard for my growth”
After becoming the first Asian infielder to win a Major League Baseball (MLB) Gold Glove, Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres) reflected on his stellar 2023 season.
“I’m honored to be the first Korean to win a Gold Glove,” Kim said at a press conference at Hotel Rivera Cheongdam in Gangnam-gu, Seoul on Tuesday, “and I’m glad that I’ve been able to motivate many of my youth friends who dream of playing in the major leagues and juniors who play in professional baseball.”
Kim was named the National League Utility Infielder of the Year at the MLB Gold Glove Awards, which were announced on April 16. He is the first Asian infielder to win the award. It’s an accomplishment that hasn’t been achieved by any of Japan’s top players, who have knocked on the door of the United States before.토토사이트
However, Kim himself was not present when the award was announced. He was sleeping at home. “I was shortlisted for the shortstop award in 2022 and didn’t win, so I wasn’t expecting much,” he says. “My phone vibrated so loudly that when I looked at it, it said I had won. If I had seen it in person, my heart would have been racing. I’m glad I was sleeping,” he quipped.
Kim admitted that winning the Gold Glove in the Utility Defender category meant more to him. “I would have liked to have won both, but I personally wanted to win the utility award,” he said. “The second base award is good, but I think the utility award is valuable because of the increased value of multiplayer in the major leagues.”
Kim’s primary position is shortstop. Even after coming to the United States in 2021, he played shortstop for two seasons. This season, however, things changed. San Diego acquired big-time shortstop Xander Bogaerts. While Kim’s defense was much better, the Padres decided to give Bogaerts a shot at shortstop because of his name recognition.
Kim was forced to move to second base and became a utility infielder, often playing shortstop and third base, and it was this situation that led to him being recognized as one of the best multiplayer players in the league. Now, he’s an all-around player who sees not only shortstop but also second and third base.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about switching positions. “I told the club that playing time was more important than position. The coaching staff and players around me helped me, so I think I did not perform badly as a second baseman.”
“I actually hated playing utility,” Kim said. “I actually hated playing utility in high school, and it was the same in the pros,” he said. “I thought, ‘I only want to see shortstop,’ and even in the pros, there were games where I went to third base, and I didn’t like it.
“But I didn’t think that those experiences would help me in the major leagues,” he said, adding, “Looking back, I think the feelings and time I didn’t like at the time helped me grow.” He then smiled sheepishly.
While Kim can play every infield position except first base, there are still some positions that are more challenging and difficult. “Third base is difficult. The ball is so fast and you have to have good handling. “If I’m out of position, I have to use a lot of concentration and it’s physically difficult,” he said.
Kim emphasized that this season’s achievements were the result of hard work. “Even though I didn’t do well in the beginning (of my time in the U.S.), I trained a lot and thought about how I could do better,” he said. “Offensively, I hit a lot of machine balls to the point where my thumbs were swollen, and that passion helped me.” “Defensively, I think I have a good shoulder, so I feel confident that I can make an out as long as I catch the ball. I think that’s why my defensive metrics have improved.”
Last season, Kim was also the poster child for hustle plays. The image of his helmet or hat coming off while throwing his body during a play became a trademark. Even the club’s dolls depicted Kim’s helmet coming off.
It must have bothered him a bit, because he decided to wear a specially made helmet next season that wouldn’t come off.
“I was worried about it a lot. “The fans cheered every time (the helmet) came off, but personally, I thought that the ball might hit me in the head, so I asked for a special helmet,” he said. “The club also changed a lot of things, but this one seems to come off less. I think it will help me play better if the helmet doesn’t come off.”
“After winning (the Gold Glove), I want to keep winning,” he said. “I was only shortlisted for the Silver Slugger (awarded to players with good hitting), but next year I will try to win both awards at the same time.”