[스포티비뉴스=청담동, 신원철 기자 / 이강유 자] The first Korean Major Leaguer to win the Gold Glove Award spoke at a press conference amidst a lot of interest and said what he had not said before.
Ha-seong Kim (San Diego Padres) looked back on his career so far for 50 minutes and even talked about his resolutions and resolutions after winning the Gold Glove at the ‘Gold Glove Award Official Press Conference’ held at the Hotel Riviera Versailles Hall in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul on the 20th.
Ha-seong Kim said at the event, “It is an honor to be the first Korean to receive a Gold Glove. I am happy that it has motivated many youth players and professional baseball prospects who dream of becoming major leaguers.”
He also said, “When I first came to the Major League, I didn’t know I could receive an award like this, but I’m happy and honored to receive it. I think one of the driving forces behind being able to receive the award was the support the fans gave me from early in the morning. I hope you can be happy next year as well.” “I will do my best,” he said.
– He was nominated for two Gold Glove awards, but after failing to win the award in the second baseman category, he received it in the utility category.
“Last year, I was also a finalist for shortstop, but I didn’t win the award. So I was sleeping when the announcement was made this year. My smartphone vibrated so much that I heard the news of the award and found out that I won the utility category. If I had been watching, I think my heart would have been pounding a lot. “I think he must have been nervous because the second baseman came out first and the utility came last. It was a good thing he was sleeping.”
-Where did you feel closer?
“It would have been nice to have received both, but I wanted to receive more in the utility category. Second base is good, but it may not have been the case in the past, but expectations for multi-player players in the major leagues have increased and their value has increased. So I wanted more in the utility category.”
– This is an award that is greatly influenced by defensive indicators. Is there an indicator that you consider important?
“I know there are a lot of indicators, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t check them. However, it is true that I didn’t pay attention to the defensive indicators because my batting performance dropped at the end of the season. I don’t know which is more important, but I think everything should be good overall.”
– There was a change in position, but did you feel any pressure? Have you received any communication from Edman, who was a finalist?
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel pressured. However, I wasn’t in a situation where I had to choose my position. I told the club that playing time is more important than position, and that I would do my best wherever I went. With the help of my coaching staff and colleagues, I was able to achieve good results as a second baseman. “I was able to do it. I talked to Edman a lot when I met him during the game. I also received congratulations.”
-What did you talk about with Edman?
“We were close during the WBC, but because we were on different teams, we couldn’t keep in touch much. But every time I contacted him, he welcomed me. Since Edman was a player with more major league experience than me, he told me to do my best until the end. We encouraged each other. “
– The scene where the helmet comes off was a trademark, so I got a new helmet.
“I had a lot of trouble with the helmet. The fans cheer every time I do that and see it as a symbol of hustle play, but I was worried that I might get hit in the head by the ball. The club also changed it in various ways, but it kept coming off. The new product I ordered seems to come off less often. “But I think it would be better for me to continue my career as a player if it didn’t come off.”
“I don’t think it’s because my head is small, and the helmet is hard and heavy, so it falls off even if it’s shaken a little. I think it’s because I run so fast that I get hit by a lot of wind.”
– Has anything changed since winning the Gold Glove? Is there anything memorable about the congratulatory message?
“I never thought I would receive a Gold Glove. After receiving it, I became greedy. I am working out with the mindset of wanting to receive a Gold Glove next year and beyond. The most memorable message was the one I received from coach Bob Melvin (current San Francisco Giants). “The coach told me that he was one of the best players I’ve ever met, that it was a pleasure working with him, and that he congratulated me.”
– You competed against prominent candidates in the utility sector. Do you have any strengths of your own?
“I was worried because everyone was a good player. Still, I think I was better in defensive numbers. Unlike Korea (Golden Gloves), Gold Gloves only look at defense, so I think I was able to receive the award ahead of the two players in terms of indicators.”
– Is there a difference in defense when you play in the KBO league and when you play in the major league?
“I think the basics of baseball are the same. However, in the United States, there seems to be more creative play. That’s why there are many cases of bare-handed catches or backhand catches with running throws. In Korea, I think I focused too much on the basics. You have to catch it from the front at all costs. “I thought I could. When I went to the U.S., I received advice that it would be good to be good at one-handed catching, and when I applied it, my freedom in play increased. The ground conditions were also better. So I think my defense was a little better in the U.S. than in Korea.”
– Is there a senior who influenced you?
“Mental spirit is important to have a long season. I felt something while talking with senior Park Chan-ho. I always worked out with the mindset that I had to go up. After experiencing failure in the first season, I had a really hard time. At that time, I just thought that I had to keep going up. I think it was difficult. That’s why I couldn’t handle it when I fell. Park Chan-ho told me that he would like me to do it with the mindset of steadily moving forward (forward) rather than going up. If I don’t succeed, I started to think that it’s not about falling, but taking a break for a while. That’s what they say, even though we’re going through a long season. It was helpful.”
“Although we don’t communicate well, I learn a lot from young players like Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. I also got a good influence from my family, like my mother who stayed in the U.S. with me.”
– Was there any difficulty in taking on three positions?
“I can say this now, but I hated playing utility. When I was in high school, I only wanted to play shortstop, but that wasn’t possible, so I played second and third base as well. Even in the pros, there were times when I had to play third base, but I hated it at the time. That experience was a major hit. “I didn’t think it would help me in the league. Looking back now, it was a huge help. I think the feelings and time I hated back then became a big stepping stone for my growth.”
-What was the most difficult position?
“Personally, I think playing third base is difficult. It seems like a position where the batted ball is too fast and requires a lot of handling. Unlike shortstop or second baseman, I can’t see the batted ball very well. If I go out to a position that is not my position, I get very nervous and have to concentrate, so it is physically difficult. It’s also difficult.”
– After the season ended, you visited your alma mater. Is there anything you felt while looking at your juniors?
“This time, I visited my alma mater. I had wanted to go there for a long time, but when I played, the teachers were not there anymore, so it was difficult. This time, a good opportunity arose and I decided to go, and it was a really meaningful time. It was nice to see the school where I played and lived hard when I was young. Elementary school. Back then, there were only 9 players, so no one got hurt, but now the number of players has increased a lot. When I talked to young kids, there were a lot of them who said their dream was to be a major leaguer. I wondered if I could have said that with confidence when I was young, and the word major leaguer. It was meaningful to think that we were getting closer. I think I have followed the path that my seniors have walked, and I hope that juniors like Lee Jeong-hoo will also do well.”
– You are improving every year. How did you prepare?”
“The first season was very difficult. Personally, I thought that while playing baseball, you should build castles on concrete rather than on sand, so I worked hard consistently. Everyone will work hard, but I trained a lot even when my grades were bad. How can I do better? I worried a lot about how I could hit a fast ball. I was very weak in terms of attack, so I hit a lot of balls on the pitching machine with the thought of hitting them first. My thumb also swelled a lot. That passion helped, and at that time, Coach Won-je Choi “As we met, I was able to improve in batting. I thought I had a good arm in defense, so I was confident that I could make an out once I caught him. As I did that, I think my defensive indicators also improved.”
– Is there any ‘practical advice’ you would like to give to players dreaming of becoming major leaguers?
“It’s natural to be good at baseball, and I wish I had learned English when I was young. Communication is really important. I didn’t think I would go to the major leagues, so I didn’t study English, and I’m still having a hard time. It’s a dream.” If you have, studying English in advance will help even if you don’t become a major league player. Lee Jeong-hoo and Ko Woo-seok are good players in Korea, so I think the challenge will be an example. I know that both players are not good at English after they advance to the United States, but even now. “I want to tell them to study. I hope we approach the players first. Depending on how we behave, we can be recognized first.”
– A player who is being watched as a role model and the next major leaguer.
“I have a strong desire to do better since I received the Gold Glove. I was also nominated for Silver Slugger, and I think that motivates me to improve. I think the player who can become the next major leaguer is Kim Hye-seong (Kiwoom Heroes). APBC “While watching the (Asian Professional Baseball Championship), I thought that she was different from players of the same age. Because she is so sincere and has a great passion for baseball, I think there is a high possibility that Kim Hye-seong will become the next major leaguer in the infield.”
“I keep in touch with Kim Hye-sung often. I know he is thinking about advancing to the Major League. I know he will be able to post after next year, and I really want to see him play in the Major League.”
– Do you have a desire for Silver Slugger?
“It would be nice to receive it, but I have many shortcomings in batting. Still, since we don’t know what will happen, I will try to have a confident season next year. It will be difficult to receive, but I will do my best since I was nominated.”
– He also received votes in the MVP vote.
“Thank you to those who voted. I think it motivated me to work harder. The vote itself is a source of great pride for me.”
– Do you think the rule change led to an increase in stolen bases (career high 38 stolen bases)? Any thoughts on shift limits?
“My goal this year was to steal a lot of bases. Luckily, the bases got bigger and there was a limit on checks, so I was able to try to steal more bases. It’s a good change for not only me but also many players who run. There were a lot of players who hit home runs. “But with the rule revision, it seems like players have a way to survive. It’s a really good change for me, and I want to steal more bases next year than I did this year.”
“It seems like second basemen have more work to do as shifts have been restricted in defense. It is difficult to shift for right-handed hitters. So the second baseman’s fielding range needs to be wider. I have more things to do, so it’s more fun.”
– How different are the ground conditions?
“It’s so different that it’s hard to explain. Edison Russell (former Kiwoom) said that in the U.S. it’s like a batted ball bouncing off a bed, but in Korea it’s difficult. The batted ball speed is faster in the U.S., but there’s less concern about irregular bounce, so it’s easier to defend. In Korea. “I tried playing, but it was difficult. (Oh) Ji-hwan (LG Twins) seems to be really good.”
– Starting this year, your third year, you have the right to veto the minor league. Has this right helped you psychologically? I also have a new contract coming up.
“I also talked to (Lee) Jeong-hoo, but it seems like the minor league veto doesn’t mean much. Even though I didn’t do well the first year, I wasn’t sent down to the minor league. It’s not easy for a player with a high salary to be sent down to the minor league unless he really hits rock bottom. When I entered the major league, there were seniors who were in the minor league. So I thought it would be a big problem if I went to the minor league. That’s why I was obsessed with the minor league right of veto. I don’t think Lee Jung-hoo would go there for less money either. He was obsessed with the minor league right of veto. “I don’t think there is any reason to do it. I think it would be better to include an opt-out (a condition of obtaining free agency rights midway through the contract period).”
– Would you like to win a Gold Glove in a different position?
“No matter what position I play, I always want to win a Gold Glove. What I want to do best right now is defense. I want to prove that I am not a flashy player.”
– Trade rumors are also frequently appearing.
“I was stressed at first, but not now. There is talk of a trade because another team needs me. It doesn’t matter which team gives me playing time. But personally, I like San Diego.”
– Is there anything difficult about living in America?
“It’s still difficult now. But time is the essence. As time goes by, you learn more, and as you gain experience, you become more comfortable. In the first season, it was difficult because every day was a new day. It was difficult to spend each day without knowing what tomorrow would hold, but now “After spending the third season, I have a general idea. So I have more time to save physically. I think it’s ultimately something you gain through time and experience.”
“I think we are following the path paved by our senior Korean major leaguers. Our juniors must do well to run on a better road.”
– Is there anything you would like to improve in terms of batting indicators?
“I said I would increase my long-hits ahead of this season, but I was disappointed. The last month was difficult. Looking at that, I think I need to be ready for the full-time season. I’m trying to focus on being able to hit stronger bats next year. I still have my skills. “Shouldn’t I work harder and do the things I did because I thought my batting wasn’t perfect?”
– I’m a free agent after next season, and it’s the season right before free agency after winning the Gold Glove.
“There are many people who say next year is important because it is free agency, but there is no season that is not important to me. So I will always prepare as best as I can. If I become a free agent, it is the first opportunity in my career. I hope I do well without getting hurt. Personally, “I hope next year will be a better season than this year, so I’m doing my best.”
– I get to play in the opening game in Seoul next year.
“I am very honored to participate in the first opening game held in Korea. I think that when young kids come here, they will see the play of major leaguers and develop their dreams. I am playing two games and I want to hit at least one hit in each game. Major League Baseball “The players are very interested in Korea. If there’s anything I can do, I’ll teach them a lot about Korea and travel around with them a lot. I need to focus on the game, but I think it’ll be a bother. But since it’s my first time here, I’ll take them with me.”
– There were many hustle plays that raised concerns about injuries.
“No player will go through a season without getting sick. There were people who asked me to refrain from sliding, but I just did it because it was a play I could play. No player gets hurt because they want to get hurt. I will play as hard next year as I did this year. I will not hesitate.”
Ha-seong Kim was among the final three in this year’s National League Gold Glove voting in two categories: utility and second base. He competed with Nico Horner (Chicago Cops) and Bryson Stutt (Philadelphia Phillies) in the second baseman category, but failed to win the award. However, in the utility category announced later, he won the Gold Glove, beating Tommy Edman (St. Louis Cardinals) and Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers).
The honor of being the first Gold Glove in the history of a Korean major leaguer followed. Limited to infielders, this is the first Gold Glove among Asian major leaguers. Ichiro Suzuki won the Gold Glove Award as an American League outfielder for 10 consecutive years during his time with the Seattle Mariners, and Ha-seong Kim is the first infielder to do so.
The fact that he performed among the best among National League infielders can be seen in the fact that he was included in the Silver Slugger nominations. Ha-seong Kim was nominated for Silver Slugger in the utility category with a batting average of 0.260 and 17 home runs and 60 RBIs in 152 games this year. Although he did not receive the award, it can be interpreted to mean that he performed competitively in attack as well.
In the MVP voting results announced on the 17th, he received 5 10th place votes, earning a total score of 5 points. While Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta Braves) swept 30 first-place votes and was unanimously selected as MVP, Ha-seong Kim became one of only 18 votes. He was the third Korean major leaguer to receive votes in the MVP vote, following Choo Shin-soo (2010 Cleveland Indians, 2013 Cincinnati Reds) and Ryu Hyun-jin (2019 Dodgers).