Can Byung Ho Park be the Twins' everyday designated hitter?


The Minnesota Twins' biggest splash into free agency during the offseason was the signing of Korean slugger Byung Ho Park.

But will the powerful right-handed hitter be ready to be the Twins everyday designated hitter when the team opens the regular season April 4 in Baltimore?

That question is a little tougher to answer.

There's no debating there will be a learning curve for Park, who has crushed 105 home runs combined over his last two seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization.

The Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino notes that it's likely Park will see an offensive downturn in Minnesota. But how significant will that be?

Berardino points to some former Major League Baseball washouts dominating in Korea.

"In Korea, he was a terror, batting .381 thwacking 47 home runs and amassing a 1.288 OPS last season that would make Barry Bonds look cleaner than a green tarp. He led his team to a deep playoff run and was named the league's most valuable player.

In MLB, he was a nobody – a prototypical Four-A player who tore up the minors but never stuck in the big leagues before washing out after two seasons at age 25 and heading overseas.

That's Eric Thames, a one-time Blue Jays and Mariners outfielder who took a star turn in the Korean Baseball Organization."

But there's also the story of Pittsburgh's Jung Ho Kang, who was Park's teammate with the Nexum Heroes, but played last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kang posted similar numbers to Park in the KBO, and hit .287 with 15 home runs last season for Pittsburgh.

Knuckleballs blogger, Jim Crikket, thinks its entirely possible that Park won't be ready for major league pitching on opening day. Crikket even suggests that he believes either Kennys Vargas or Oswaldo Arcia will demonstrate during spring training they are more likely to generate runs for the Twins than Park.

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