Monday, March 7, 2016

The Twins Korean project

Byung Ho Park leaves the plate on his grand slam Sunday
in the Tampa Bay Rays' spring training park in Port Charlotte.
I wrote the Monday print column, largely on Byung Ho Park and the uncertain expectations for the Korean slugger, on Saturday evening . I was in the air between Fort Myers and MSP when Park hit his first spring training homer on Sunday.

Sunday was also his first appearance in the field this spring. He had been the starting designated hitter in the Twins' first four games, and I didn't expect him to be in the lineup at all on Sunday. I can't recall the last guy who started five days in a row in Grapefruit League play, much less five straight at the start.

My seats for the Saturday game (against the Baltimore Orioles) were close to first base, and Park was one of three players working at first during pregame infield drills, the others being starter Joe Mauer and James Beresford, who handled first for the final four innings of the game. Tom Kelly was hovering and talking frequently with Park, at one point grabbing Park by his pants pocket to pull him back to get his attention. The interpreter wasn't there, so I don't know how much of what TK was telling Park was getting through.

At one point Park tried to dig a low throw out of the dirt. Kelly let out a yelp of disappointment when he saw the ball still on the ground. TK has been known to make certain infielders, and first basemen in particular, pet projects during spring training, and I wouldn't be surprised if Park (a) is deemed a little weak on scooping throws and (b) that makes him a TK project.


  1. According to the Twins' website, Park has won 3 Gold Gloves at first base in Korea. I guess their Gold Gloves mean about as much as MLB ones do.

  2. The Korean Gold Gloves are not, unlike ours, intended to recognize stellar defense, but rather the best overall player at the position. I can't address how well they do that, but the intent is different.