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Kim Sang-hyun makes immediate impact with new KBO team

After being traded by the same Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) team for the second time in his career this week, Kim Sang-hyun didn't initially hide his disappointment.

In his first game for the SK Wyverns since being moved by the Kia Tigers, the right-handed slugger put what bitter feelings he might have had behind him, and made an immediate impact on the field.

Batting cleanup for the Incheon-based club following Monday's trade, Kim went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Both RBIs came on a two-run home run in the eighth inning, as the Wyverns defeated the Doosan Bears 8-3.

The victory at their home Munhak Stadium improved the Wyverns' record to 12-12 with one tie. The Wyverns have been a perennial contender, having played in a KBO-record six consecutive Korean Series starting in 2007, but they have struggled to stay above .500 in 2013.

The Wyverns will count on Kim to help turn their season around and their expectations are such that they gave away a versatile, battle-tested right-hander in Song Eun-beom, who can start, pitch in relief and also close games, to acquire Kim.

Kim, 32, was voted the league MVP in 2009 thanks to his KBO-leading 36 home runs and 127 RBIs for the Tigers. The Tigers won the Korean Series that same season. Kim, though, has been slowed by injuries since then, and managed just 39 home runs from 2010 to 2012.

Kim left the Tigers with a meager .222 average and two homers in 24 games in 2013, and yet that didn't prevent Lee Man-soo, the SK's manager, from penciling in Kim as the team's new cleanup hitter. Lee will look to Kim to provide some right-handed power to back young right-handed-slugger Choi Jeong, currently the KBO leader with 31 RBIs, in a left-heavy lineup.

Kim lived up to the manager's expectations, at least in the first game.

Kim was drafted by the Tigers in 2000 and made his KBO debut with them the following year. He only appeared in 16 games though and was dealt to the LG Twins in 2002.

Kim remained a mostly part-time player for the Twins until they shipped him back to the Tigers in 2009. He went on to have a breakout season, establishing career-highs in all major offensive categories.

But the same Tigers traded him for the second time in his career this week. In the aftermath, Kim said, "(I) never thought they'd do this to me again," but he added that he quickly started to look forward, not back.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed and hurt, but I was grateful for the opportunity (to play for SK)," Kim said before the game Tuesday. "I slept for only about three hours Monday night. I kept thinking about what I should do for SK."

After the game, Kim said he battled some nerves early in his SK debut but soon started feeling comfortable with his new surroundings.

"My goal here is to help the team win the championship," he said. "Personally, I'd like to hit more than 20 home runs. I want to make Kia regret trading me." (Yonhap News)

 

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