Twins' ByungHo Park plans to stay in Twin Cities this offseason
CLEVELAND — Coming off a disappointing season at Triple-A Rochester, South Korean first baseman ByungHo Park has decided to remain in the Twin Cities for the bulk of this offseason in hopes of righting his major league career.
"As I understand it, he is going to work out stateside for the offseason," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "He'll be here for the entirety of the offseason."
Park, 31, has not been back to Target Field since ending his Red Wings season with park-adjusted production that was right at league average for the International League. After missing a month early in the year with a strained hamstring, Park hit .253 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage.
He hit just 14 home runs in 111 games while striking out 28.6 percent of the time.
How has Park handled this adversity after signing a four-year, $12 million deal to leave the Korea Baseball Organization after 2015?
"Incredibly professionally," Falvey said. "He's a guy who's obviously had a lot of success (in the KBO). He's had some ups and downs now in his career over here. I think he knows that. I view it similarly. He needs to focus and grow in different spaces and control what he can control, which is play and be the best he can be.
"What he can't control are the opportunities here. That's something we want to make sure he understands. If the time presents or the opportunity presents, we want him to be ready when the time comes."
Toward that end, the Twins have discussed having Park travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to stay ready for a potential postseason opportunity should injuries strike the Twins in October. Left off the 40-man roster since early February, Park would be postseason-eligible but well down the list of prospective options.
"That's a doomsday scenario, I would guess," Falvey said. "Anyone who's going there would be in the best position. We're not going to play games. It will be more traditional instructional league, but we could potentially use anybody down there at that point."
While working in the Cleveland Indians front office, Falvey saw the benefits of keeping extra players close to home. Simulated games were scheduled between rounds in order to keep reserves sharp in case of an injury on the postseason roster.
"It was easier to keep them with you for the most part," Falvey said. "That way you didn't have to worry about travel issues if there was an injury. I think, by and large, most of them are here. We need to trim down what we have here to go to 25. Beyond that, I wouldn't anticipate any."
As for Park, who has two years and $6.5 million left on his contract (plus a club option for 2020), the Twins have no reason to believe he's ready to throw in the towel on his transition to North American baseball.
"We have every expectation he'll remain at this point," Falvey said. "With him working out in the Twin Cities this offseason, we think it's likely he'll use our facility for some of that, but nothing in the short term."