Team returns home via Incheon Airport on Nov. 11 after regular season
“Congratulations” to the juniors for winning the AG gold medal
After returning home from the 2023 season, Major League Baseball’s (MLB) San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung
Kim, 28, said it was a season that showed improvement but also left him with regrets.
“It was a good and bad season for me,”
Kim Ha Sung
After returning home through Incheon International Airport on Nov. 11. Every year, before the season starts,
my goal is to grow more than the previous season and perform well. It’s good that I did better than last
year,” he said, “but it’s very disappointing that I didn’t play well in the second half of the season.”
Kim, who was recognized for his steady defense as a backup infielder in 2021, stepped up to fill the void
left by starting shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. who missed the entire season last year.
This season, he’s taken another step forward, serving as the team’s primary second baseman and
providing a solid presence on offense and at the plate.
In 152 games this season, he batted .260 (140-for-538) with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs. He also stole 38
bases and scored 84 runs, and his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) was a respectable 0.749. He
set career highs in nearly every statistical category, establishing himself as an offensive as well as defensive first baseman.
“I worked on my batting form in the offseason, focusing on getting more power and putting in a lot of
work. “That’s half the battle,” he said, “but there are a lot of things I need to work on. However, there were a lot of things I needed to work on. Next year is an important time, so I need to prepare better in the offseason this year.”
On stealing the most bases in his big league debut, he said,
“I value stolen bases more than just getting on base a lot. I’m aiming to improve my success rate next year.”
With his solid defense, Kim is a strong candidate for the National League Gold Glove at second base. Last
year, he was one of three finalists for the National League shortstop award.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win the Gold Glove,” he said, “I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I’m looking forward to it.”
This year, he also drew attention for his physical hustle play. The San Diego fans cheered and applauded Kim’s hustle.
“I’m grateful that the fans like me so much.
Compared to other players, they give me a lot of cheers, and I’m grateful for that,” he said. “I think the
fans like me because I’m recognized as a player who makes a lot of hustle plays,” he added.
His only regret was his slump at the end of the season. In 21 games in September, he batted just .184 (16-for-87).
He had 17 home runs and 29 stolen bases in 130 games through August, raising hopes of becoming the
first Asian infielder to reach 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, but he failed to hit a single home run
while adding nine stolen bases in September.
“I’m definitely disappointed, but you always have to be disappointed to improve. I’m not going to let it
bother me and focus on doing better next year,” he said.
“I think our fitness was the biggest problem in the second half of the season. There were a lot of defensive
position changes and a lot of stolen bases, so my stamina dropped in the second half.”
He also congratulated his younger teammates for winning gold at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.
“I didn’t watch the whole game because of the time difference, so I only watched the highlights,” he said,
“but I’m sure they had a lot of pressure after their poor performance at the World Baseball Classic (WBC)
in March. I’m so thankful for the juniors who overcame it and did well in the international tournament. I
have a duty to promote Korean baseball, but the juniors played well with that responsibility,” he praised.
The opening game will be especially special for Kim, who will be entering his fourth year in the big
leagues next year. San Diego will open the regular season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 20-21 in Seoul.
“It’s meaningful because it’s my first time playing an MLB regular season game in Korea. I’m really looking
forward to it. It’s a great honor to be able to play in the first game,” he said. “I hope a lot of young
amateur players will come and see it and dream about it.”
He also said that he received many requests from his teammates, adding, “I will do my best to fulfill them.” He smiled.
Back in his homeland, Kim will take a short break before returning to training.
“I’m going to rest a bit. After that, I will build my body and train according to the schedule I have
prepared,” he explained. 19가이드03