Byung-ho Park's major league career was off to a rough start in spring training. The former two-time most valuable player in the Korean Baseball Organization signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Minnesota Twins in December, after the team paid a $13 million fee just to negotiate Park's rights.
In his first spring training game, Park struck out three times, and entering Sunday's game with the Tampa Bay Rays, Park had one hit through eight at bats.
Nothing a huge grand slam can't fix.
Park smacked his first home run in a Twins uniform Sunday, crushing a first-inning pitching from Rays starter Jake Odorizzi to put the Twins up 4-0. They went on to win 5-4, but spring training wins are meaningless. Much more important is the sign of a player getting into a groove or gaining some confidence.
Speaking through an interpreter, Park later told ESPN that he wasn't sure the ball would carry all the way over the wall, as a stiff wind was blowing to the hitter's disadvantage. Park's four-run homer was more about height than distance: It sounds sweet cracking off the bat, and zooms straight up into the air, then takes a long, long time before finally dropping down outside the fence.
Twins fans will have to hope that it was this uncertainty, not some newfound modesty, that deprived us of one of Park's legendary bat-flip celebrations.