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(2nd LD) Twins' Park Byung-ho homers for 2nd consecutive game

All Headlines 11:32 March 09, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more results in paras 11-15, photo)

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- The Minnesota Twins' Park Byung-ho homered for his second straight spring game on Tuesday in Florida.

The four-time South Korean home run king blasted a solo shot off the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Gavin Floyd in the second inning of their Grapefruit League game in Dunedin, Florida.

It was Park's second home run in as many games. He launched a grand slam on Sunday and had a day off Monday before returning to action against the Jays.

Park's home run cut the Twins' deficit to 5-1, but Minnesota went on to lose the game 9-3.

Park, batting fifth and playing first, went 1-for-2 with an RBI. He struck out against Roberto Hernandez to start the fifth and was lifted in the sixth for Alex Swim.

After driving a 92 mph fastball over the left-center wall, Park said his timing at the plate is improving.

"The thing I try to work on the most is my timing when it comes to batting," Park told the Minnesota Star Tribune. "It feels like it is better, like it is starting to fall into place."

Park signed a four-year deal with the Twins in December after getting posted by his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, the Nexen Heroes. He hit 53 home runs in 2015 and 52 the season before, becoming the first KBO player to hit 50 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons. He's also the only KBO player to lead the league in home runs for four consecutive years.

He's hitting 3-for-13 with two home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored in his first big league spring.

Though he'd been primarily a first baseman back home, Park is expected to be the Twins' primary designated hitter and spell veteran Joe Mauer at the bag.

Elsewhere in preseason, Choi Ji-man of the Los Angeles Angels hit his first home run of the spring against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The long-time minor league prospect hit a tie-breaking two-run shot off Josh Collmenter in the top of the sixth inning, putting the Halos up 5-3. The Angels held on to win the game by the same score.

Choi, batting ninth and playing first base, went 1-for-3 for the day with a walk. He is 4-for-17 this spring with five RBIs and three walks.

He'd been in the Seattle Mariners system until this past winter, when he signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles. The Angels then selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, and they must keep him on their active roster or ship him back to the O's for cash.

The Angels' incumbent first baseman, Albert Pujols, will miss the early part of the season with a foot injury, and Choi and C.J. Cron are expected to share the duties at the bag.

Also on Tuesday, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Oh Seung-hwan tossed one perfect inning against the Twins in a split-squad game in Fort Myers, Florida. It was his second consecutive scoreless outing, after shutting down the Miami Marlins over 1 1/3 innings last Saturday.

Oh relieved starter Michael Wacha in the bottom third with the Cards trailing 1-0. He retired Kurt Suzuki on a grounder, and Danny Santana lined out to third. Brian Dozier flied out to left field, as Oh needed only three pitches to get out of the inning.

St. Louis won the game 5-3.

Oh is the all-time saves leader in the KBO with 277, all of them with the Samsung Lions over nine seasons. He added 80 saves in two seasons with the Hanshin Tigers in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) the past two seasons before joining the Cards in January.

With All-Star closer Trevor Rosenthal in tow, Oh will likely serve as a setup man with the Cards.

In Goodyear, Arizona, Lee Dae-ho of the Mariners reached safely for his fourth consecutive game, after going 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.

The hulking first baseman also made a diving grab on the field. He's batting 2-for-7 with a home run in four games.

The Orioles outfielder Kim Hyun-soo, mired in a 0-for-18 funk, sat out the team's 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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