Kim gets back in the game with a new shot at MLB

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Kim gets back in the game with a new shot at MLB

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Kim Byung-hyun

Free agent Kim Byung-hyun is getting another shot at the major leagues with the San Francisco Giants.

According to an Associated Press report, the pitcher agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with the Giants yesterday. Kim reportedly received a non-roster invite to Giants’ spring training. If the 31-year-old impresses the coaching staff, he can earn a shot at hurling in the majors for the first time since the 2007 season.

The Gwangju, South Jeolla, native made his Major League Baseball debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999, and immediately drew attention for his right-handed submarine delivery. His top pitches reached 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour. Kim’s breakout season came in 2001 as Arizona’s closer. He posted five wins, six losses and 19 saves on a 2.94 ERA, with 113 strikeouts in 98 innings that season, helping the Diamondbacks reach the World Series against the New York Yankees.

Despite an impressive season, Kim is best remembered for allowing the tying two-run homer in the ninth inning to Tino Martinez and the winning home run to Derek Jeter in the 10th to lose game four of that Series. Kim would go on to give up another game-tying two-run home run to Scott Brosius in the ninth inning of the following game. The Yankees won that bout in the 12th inning.

Despite the setbacks, Arizona won the World Series in 2001. In the following season, Kim set the club record for most saves in a season by posting 36 saves, eight wins and three losses on a 2.04 ERA and was selected to the National League All-Star team.

In May of 2003, Kim was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Shea Hillenbrand. He would join the Colorado Rockies in 2005 via a trade and finally got his wish to become a regular starter. He was traded to the Florida Marlins in 2007 and also spent some time with the Arizona Diamondbacks that season.

Kim signed on with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, but after he failed to impress the coaching staff in spring training he was released before the start of the season.

Kim couldn’t gather much interest from MLB teams after his failed stint with the Pirates, but he was selected to represent the Korean national team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic in March. A successful stint there could have served him well with the MLB teams, but he was dropped when he lost his passport and missed the national team’s training camp in Hawaii.

Kim has had many ups and downs in his nine-year MLB career, but he remains the lone Korean to win a World Series. He boasts a record of 29 wins, 25 losses and 86 saves with a 3.53 ERA as a relief pitcher, and 25 wins and 35 losses with a 5.03 ERA as a starter in the MLB.


By Jason Kim, Han Yong-seop [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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