Eddie Kim is a patient man. Both at the plate and in his preparation for the game, Kim understands the value of working hard and waiting for his opportunity. Kim’s season is off to an uncharacteristically slow start, but he is confident that with patience and perseverance, he’ll find himself back at the top of his game by the end of the season. OaklandClubhouse.com recently caught up with the slugging Kane County first baseman to find out what he expects for the second half of the year.
Eddie Kim’s 2005 campaign got off to a rough start when he went down with a knee injury during the first week of spring training. The left meniscus tear, which Kim believes may have occurred during an off-season work-out, put him on the shelf for the first month of the season. Once he was healthy, Kim found himself pressing to catch up with teammates who had put in a full month of work.
“You want to do well and put up your good numbers and when you are competing against guys who have been playing for a month longer than you have, you tend to get a little anxious,” Kim said.
As a result, Kim got off to a poor start at the plate, as he hit .215 during the month of May. He picked it up in June, however, and going into Monday’s All-Star Break, Kim had his batting average up to .230. Kim credits his recent improvement at the plate to his pre-game preparation.
“I’m really starting to feel good at the plate now. I have been working on being relaxed and consistent with my approach, and I think that that has improved this year. Last season, there were a lot of ups and downs,” Kim said.
“I think I’ve done a decent job of improving my approach and preparation both with batting practice and defensive drills. Hopefully the numbers will reflect that work by the end of the year.”
Despite his struggles early on, one aspect of Kim’s game that did not suffer was his run-production. In 122 at-bats, Kim has crushed five homeruns and nine doubles. He has also driven in 22 runs, good for sixth on the team despite missing a month. Kim was one of the Cougars’ top RBI-men last season, as well. He drove in 71 runs in only 113 games played. In his first season with the A’s organization in 2003, Kim hit .305 with an 821 OPS in 65 games for the Vancouver Canadians.
Kim was drafted by the A’s in the fourth round of the 2003 draft after an outstanding career at James Madison University in Virginia. However, the A’s interest in Kim began well before the 2003 season. He wasn’t drafted after the 2002 campaign, but the A’s offered him a free agent contract at the end of that season. Kim elected to go back to college after the 2002 season, but he wasn’t surprised when the A’s showed interest in him again in 2003. He has always been a patient hitter with good power, so he knew that he fit well into the A’s organizational hitting mold.
“I knew they were interested in me [when the draft came around the next year], but I didn’t realize that they were going to pop me so high,” Kim said. “I have always been a patient hitter and I know they like that. My approach has always been that if you don’t want to pitch to me, fine, I’ll take my walk.”
Kim isn’t the only recent James Madison alum who is playing in the A’s organization. In December, Oakland acquired Kim’s former JMU teammate and his current off-season work out partner Dan Meyer from the Atlanta Braves organization.
“He was kidding around with me about two weeks before the trade that he was going to be an Athletic, but I was still shocked when I turned on SportsCenter and saw that he was going to be on the team,” Kim said.
“It has been fun to watch him develop into a big league caliber player and it is definitely nice to have someone you played with in college in the same organization as you.”
After not playing much his freshman year at James Madison, Kim hit over .400 in each of his last two seasons and had a career OPS over 1000 for JMU. Kim believes that his success in college was, in large part, due to the time he spent on the bench during his first season.
“When I got to JMU, there was a senior playing at first base, so I only had something like 25 at-bats. It was the best thing for me, though, because I learned so much watching from the bench and working during practice,” Kim said. “After that season, everything fell in place for me.”
Kim is facing a similar situation this year at Kane County, as he is sharing playing time with Tom Everidge at first.
“I think it is always good to see the game from a different perspective, so I take my time on the bench as an opportunity to learn about the game,” Kim said. “I’m hoping that the time I’m not playing this season will have a similar effect [as it did in college] on my [professional] career later on.”
Part of the learning process for Kim this season has been working on adjustments at the plate, more specifically with his batting stance. When Kim was at JMU, he used a toe-tap at the plate as his timing mechanism. However, once he arrived in the Oakland chain, the A’s hitting instructors had him move away from the toe-tap. All told, Kim estimates that he has tried four or five different batting stances since becoming a professional. Last week, the A’s minor league roving hitting instructor was in Kane County and suggested that Kim return to the toe-tap because he had so much success with it in college.
“The biggest adjustment since college has been on my batting stance and what to do with the lower half of my body. It is definitely harder to make in-season adjustments [in professional ball],” Kim said.
“In college, you have days off and full practices to work on new adjustments but here you have to test it out in live situations because you don’t have those days off to work on it.”
With the second-half of the 2005 season about to begin, Kim is looking forward to better results. He is confident that the hard work he has put in to improve his swing will pay off.
“When you are hitting .230, you have nowhere to go but up. I’m treating this second half of the season as a clean slate and I am very optimistic that I’ll be able to put together a good year by the end,” Kim said.