Kim makes a big hit with Nippon Pro Baseball
As his team trailed by a run, the 27-year-old first baseman smashed a 140-meter (459-foot) solo home run over the left field fence of the Tokyo Dome at the top of the fourth inning last weekend. The homer was the second of the preseason for Kim, with his first coming on March 1 against the Chunichi Dragons.
Although it’s only the preseason and a strong performance now does not guarantee a solid regular season, Kim’s homer was impressive in that it came off Nippon Ham Fighter and Japanese national team ace Yu Darvish. The 23-year-old is coming off a Pacific MVP and NPB ERA-winning season in which he posted 15 wins and five losses on 167 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA in 22 appearances. Darvish is widely considered the best pitcher in the NPB and is said to be attracting a lot of attention from Major League teams.
“I struck out in my first at-bat, and that motivated me to do better,” Kim was quoted as saying to the Japanese press.
“I didn’t know Darvish threw the two-seam fastball. I’ll be better prepared next time,” added Kim.
Kim made his professional debut with the Hanhwa Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization in 2001 and won the top rookie honors with a .335 batting average, 20 home runs and 54 RBIs.
He played for the Eagles until the end of last season, when he signed a three-year, 700 million yen ($7.8 million) contract with the Marines in November 2009.
A former teammate of Kim’s, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ third baseman Lee Bum-ho, registered a two-run single in the top of the third inning against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, going one-for-three on the day.
Having signed a two-year deal worth 500 million yen with the Hawks last November, the 28-year-old has a .270 batting average.
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]