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Park helps the Twins top Tampa Bay Rays 1-0

Mar 30,2017
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Park Byung-ho, designated hitter and first baseman for the Minnesota Twins of MLB. [YONHAP]
Park Byung-ho of the Minnesota Twins hit a solo home run, his fifth in spring training exhibition games, to lead the team to a win against Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Florida, on Tuesday.

Park, who was the seventh designated hitter for the Twins, hit his fifth home run since the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 21.

Park was on bat for the first time in the game during the second inning but was struck out by Chris Archer.

In the fifth, as the leadoff batter for the Twins, he was given a walk to first base. With two outs at the bottom of seventh, Park hit a solo home run over the right fence against Austin Pruitt to break the 0-0 tie, helping the Twins win.

“It’s less of a mechanical thing than a timing thing with a bat,” Park said during his interview with MLB.com. “My timing has been great at the plate. It’s worked out really well for me.”

After ten seasons of playing in the Korean Baseball Organization, Park signed a four year, $12 million contract with the Twins.

Despite expectations, Park had a disappointing major league debut, which led him to be demoted to the minor league and conclude his season early. In his first year in the major league, Park recorded a 0.191 batting average with 12 home runs, 24 runs batted in, 21 walks and 80 strikeouts.

When he returned from the off season, he was designated for assignment from the Twins and was transferred to the minor league. As a result, Park is now playing in spring training exhibition games under invitation.

To recover from his weak performance last year, Park worked on his physical condition and shortened his swing to handle fastballs better during the off season.

He has therefore been showing marked improvement. In spring training exhibition games, Park recorded a 0.362 batting average with five home runs and ten runs batted in as of Wednesday.

Based on his performance so far in spring training, Park is likely to be in the 25-man roster. To do so, he will have to be named in the 40-man roster, which is the expanded roster Park has to be included in to be considered into the 25-man roster. As the Twins put Glen Perkins on the 60-day disabled list, they may now include Park’s name in the 40-man roster.

BY YOO BYEONG-MIN AND PARK SO-YOUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]