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(LEAD) Twins' Park Byung-ho hits grand slam for first U.S. homer

All News 08:57 March 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details, other results, photo)

SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) - The Minnesota Twins' Park Byung-ho hit a grand slam for his first home run in the United States on Sunday.

Batting sixth, the Korean slugger crushed one off Tampa Bay Ray's right-hander Jake Odorizzi in the first inning of their preseason game in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Twins won the game 5-4.

It was the first long ball of the spring for Park, who joined the Twins on a four-year, US$12 million deal after they won the posting bid for him with a $12.85 million bid. Park had been one of the most feared sluggers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) for the Nexen Heroes, and belted 52 and 53 homers in the past two seasons here.

The KBO MVP in 2012 and 2013 is expected to serve as the Twins' designated hitter and also to spell veteran Joe Mauer at first base. Park had been the first baseman in the KBO and played the position for the first time this spring on Sunday.

Park later said he wasn't certain at first the ball was going to leave the yard.

"I made solid contact," he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But I wasn't sure it was going to go out of the park because the wind was blowing pretty hard."

Park reached on an error in the fourth and struck out in the sixth before Max Kepler replaced him in the bottom half of that inning.

He had been 1-for-8 with three strikeouts before hitting one out Sunday.

Elsewhere in preseason, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Kim Hyun-soo remained hitless in spring after going 0-for-3 against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida.

Kim, who signed with the Orioles as a free agent in December, batted cleanup but struck out twice and left six men on base before getting lifted in the sixth inning. He is 0-for-16 in five games.

Lee Dae-ho of the Seattle Mariners, the third Korean position player to move to the United States this offseason, was 0-for-2 with a walk against the Texas Rangers in Surprise, Arizona.

Choo Shin-soo, Lee's childhood friend and veteran outfielder for the Rangers, was also hitless in his two at-bats. It was their first game against each other since high school in Busan.

Two minor league prospects hoping for big league debuts, Choi Ji-man of the Los Angeles Angels and Lee Hak-ju of the San Francisco Giants, both went hitless Sunday.


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