Kim Ha-seong Aims for Increased Power in 2024 Season with San Diego Padres

SEOUL– San Diego Padres infielder Kim Ha-seong, after improving his power numbers in each of his first three major league seasons, expressed readiness on Saturday to enhance his performance in the upcoming season. Kim is departing earlier than usual for Los Angeles to begin his preseason training before attending spring training in Arizona.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, who spoke to reporters at Incheon International Airport, he has been diligently preparing this winter and anticipates better results in 2024 compared to his previous season. Despite a successful 2023 campaign, where Kim became the first Asian infielder to win a Gold Glove and set career highs with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs, 140 hits, and a .398 slugging percentage, he still seeks to improve his batting performance. Kim aims to surpass these statistics, acknowledging a gap from his 30 home runs and .523 slugging percentage during his final season with the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in 2020.

Kim's transition from the KBO to Major League Baseball (MLB) saw a significant decrease in his power numbers, which he has been working to enhance through increased physical training. Entering the final season of his contract with the Padres, Kim faces potential trade speculation amid the team's financial challenges. However, there is also the possibility of a contract extension, with reports suggesting he could command up to $150 million over seven years.

In addition to his professional aspirations, Kim looks forward to the historic "Seoul Series" in March, where the Padres will play regular season games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Seoul. This event marks the first MLB regular season games ever to be played in South Korea. Kim also expressed excitement about playing alongside Go Woo-suk, a former LG Twins closer and newly signed Padres teammate.

Amidst this anticipation, Kim's off-field life has been marked by controversy involving his former KBO teammate Lim Hye-dong. Kim has filed a complaint against Lim for blackmail and defamation, following allegations of physical assault. Lim is currently under investigation for extorting money from Kim and another MLB player, Ryu Hyun-jin.

Despite these challenges, Kim remains focused on his upcoming season and is hopeful for a resolution to the off-field issues.

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