Padres’ Kim Ha-seong goes hitless as injury to teammate opens up opportunity

April 7, 2021

An injury to a star teammate could mean extended playing time for San Diego Padres’ infielder Kim Ha-seong, who didn’t make most of that opportunity at first go.

Kim went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park in San Diego on Monday (local time) after coming off the bench to replace Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop.

Tatis, the 22-year-old face of the Padres, suffered a left shoulder injury after striking out swinging in the bottom of the third inning. After fanning on a curveball by Anthony DeSclafani, Tatis immediately went down in obvious pain and walked off the field with manager Jayce Tingler and a team trainer. The Padres later announced Tatis suffered left shoulder subluxation and would be re-evaluated Tuesday.

Kim took over at shortstop to begin the top of the fourth. In his first plate appearance in the fifth, Kim popped out to shortstop. He had another pop out in the sixth, this time to third base, before striking out swinging in the ninth inning. The Padres lost the game 3-2.

Losing Tatis, one of the game’s most dazzling young players, for any stretch will be an even more devastating blow to the Padres, who made a flurry of offseason moves with eyes on winning a World Series title. To cap it all off, the Padres signed Kim to a record 14-year extension worth US$340 million in late February.

Tatis, who has dealt with left shoulder issues throughout his career, was hitting only .167 with five errors in five games at the time of his injury.

Kim, one of San Diego’s winter signings, has now appeared in four games but only one start. He is batting 2-for-9 with an RBI, and both of those hits and the RBI came in his first major league start on Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kim was an All-Star shortstop for the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) for the past seven years, with some appearances at third base sprinkled in, too. The Padres see him as a utility-type player who can handle shortstop, second base, third base and even left field, and Kim saw action at all four of those positions in spring training.

So far in the regular season, Kim has played second base and shortstop and will likely stay at shortstop as long as Tatis is out.