An exorbitant $6 million salary may result in Byung-Hyun Kim [stats, news] making the team, but the enigmatic pitcher has got a long way to go before the Red Sox [stats, schedule] accept him as a teammate.
Kim returned to action yesterday following a two-week, flu-related absence and tossed a scoreless inning of relief in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field, but his catcher said he didn’t know what to make of the outing due to the hurler’s reluctance to communicate with him.
It’s that apparent man-made barrier, according to Doug Mirabelli [stats, news], that has resulted in Kim’s unpopularity and ostracism from the rest of the Sox. The catcher said the 26-year-old native of Gwangju, South Korea, is capable of fitting in but curiously continues to make himself an outcast.
“I don’t get a sense of anything from him,” Mirabelli said. “You don’t get a sense for what he’s feeling. I have no idea. He stays in his own world.”
Kim refused to meet with reporters yesterday because assistant trainer Chang Lee, who serves as his translator during the rare occasions that the right-hander agrees to speak, was not assigned to the road game. Mirabelli said the pitcher, who came to the United States in 1999, has held onto the language barrier as a crutch for far too long.
“I don’t know if he gets the concept of a teammate or if he grasps that,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a knock against him that he doesn’t grasp that, but people have tried to help him out. You’ve got to give him some leeway for language but at some point (you realize) he does speak more than he lets on. So at that point, you start to think he’s making that choice.”
Mirabelli said it’s difficult to gauge if Kim even cares about what the Sox think.
“What happens when you’re a good teammate, when you go through tough times, your team’s behind you and supports you and helps you get through that,” he said. “When he goes through tough times, he doesn’t have anybody to lean on. You try to reach out early on and try to get some kind of feedback, but he doesn’t really give a lot of feedback.
“I mean, everybody here’s willing to be a good teammate. Everybody’s a good teammate to each other. Why wouldn’t we be a good teammate to him? We’re not segregating him out of anything. He’s choosing to be over there (by himself). That’s his choice, not ours.’