The O's are off to a great start after sweeping their opening series against the Twins, and they've done it without Hyun Soo Kim taking the field once. It was well known ahead of time that Kim's disastrous spring would probably lead to someone else starting in left field on Opening Day, but the O's still had a few opportunities to use Kim and didn't take them.
The Orioles' public battle with Kim over his rejection of a demotion to Norfolk lead the team to place Kim on the 25-man roster even after it initially looked like he wouldn't make it. Considering who he likely made the team in place of (Xavier Avery), this seems like a decision that wouldn't really hurt the team all that much. It's not like the O's had a proven MLB outfielder who was cut to make room for Kim.
Kim's still taking up a roster spot, so you'd think Buck Showalter would try to get Kim into games when he could. It's going to be extremely difficult for him to make the adjustment to MLB without the chance to face MLB-caliber (or at least AAA-caliber) pitching, and that's why it's a little surprising that Kim didn't bat even once this week against the Twins.
On Monday, Pedro Alvarez batted in the bottom of the 5th against Fernando Abad, with 2 runners on base and 2 outs. Abad is a lefty, and Alvarez in his career has been basically unplayable (.202/.269/.331) against left-handed pitching.
The assumption has been that Alvarez will probably sit (with Mark Trumbo moving to DH) for a lot of games against left-handed starters, so this seemed like an opportunity to pinch hit for Alvarez and give Kim his first at-bat. I get why Buck didn't do it; sending him up there with 2 outs and runners in scoring position isn't an ideal spot for his MLB debut, and the 5th inning was early enough that you'd be losing Alvarez for at least one more at bat later on.
There's also the obvious fact that Kim is a lefty as well, although he doesn't seem like the type of free-swinging pull hitter that would have an extreme platoon split like Alvarez. I had trouble finding data on splits from the KBO, but I was at least able to find the information from last year (small sample size alert), and Kim hit .333/.428/.506 against lefties in 189 PA's, versus .330/.444/.560 in 351 plate appearances against right-handers.
The site with this information also has "vs. UNDER" as a separate split category along with "vs. RIGHT" and "vs. LEFT", so these numbers may not be 100% correct, but it's the best I've got. Either way, it doesn't seem like he struggled mightily against left-handers in the KBO the way someone like Alvarez does in MLB.
Last night, the Orioles passed on what seemed to be another opportunity to start Kim. Adam Jones missed the game because of an injury, so the team had to move Joey Rickard to center field. They elected to put Nolan Remold in left field against Phil Hughes, a right-handed starter. Again, this is a reasonable decision - Reimold doesn't struggle that much against right-handers and is probably a better fielder - but starting Kim would have been a reasonable decision too.
Using Kim would not have been a no-brainer in either of those situations. Combined, though, those two spots make it look like Buck feels no obligation to get Kim playing time when he can. We all know how well Joey Rickard has been playing, and Mark Trumbo hasn't embarrassed himself with the glove out in right field yet, so I wouldn't expect the status quo to change any time soon.
Kim isn't a great runner or fielder, so Nolan Reimold or even Ryan Flaherty seem more likely to be a late-game defensive replacement for Trumbo. Adding this all up, Kim should probably get used to riding the pine.
I wasn't one to criticize Kim for the decision he made last week. The O's gave him the right to refuse a demotion in his contract, and all he did was exercise that right. If you need to blame someone, blame the GM who gave him that contract, not the player who feels riding a bus around a foreign country isn't the best personal decision for him and his family.
That said, it's looking more and more like this may not have been the best long-term baseball decision for Kim. He may have forced his way onto the 25-man roster, but it doesn't look like Buck feels any obligation to actually play him. Kim will get his starts here and there; Buck already said he plans to get him into a game this weekend before the O's go on the road. But it'll be tough for Kim to improve without regular at-bats, and the first series of the year has made it seem like Kim just isn't going to get them.