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Utility player Park Hoy-jun makes MLB Opening Day roster for 1st time

All News 11:19 April 07, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- For the first time since starting his professional career in America seven years ago, South Korean utility player Park Hoy-jun has made the major league Opening Day roster.

The Pittsburgh Pirates put the versatile player on their 28-man roster to begin the 2022 season. Park will celebrate his 26th birthday when the Pirates visit the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis at 3:15 p.m. Thursday local time, or 5:15 a.m. Friday in South Korea.

In this Associated Press file photo from March 29, 2022, Park Hoy-jun of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox during the bottom of the second inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press file photo from March 29, 2022, Park Hoy-jun of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox during the bottom of the second inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Yonhap)

Park signed with the New York Yankees out of Yatap High School in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, in July 2014 and played his first season in Rookie ball in 2015.

A highly touted shortstop prospect in South Korea, Park kept grinding through the minor leagues and made his big league debut on July 16 last year with the Yankees.

That ended up being Park's only game in pinstripes, as the Yankees traded him to the Pirates 10 days later. He appeared in 44 games for the Pirates and had a combined line of .195/.297.336 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Park launched his first career home run against the Cardinals on Aug. 10 last year.

Flashing his defensive versatility, Park played every outfield position and also handled duties at second base, third base and shortstop for the Pirates in 2021.

In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Park Hoy-jun of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the bottom of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida, on April 1, 2022. (Yonhap)

In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Park Hoy-jun of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the bottom of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida, on April 1, 2022. (Yonhap)

Park had a strong spring training to state his case for a spot on the Opening Day roster, batting .308/.357/.577 with two homers and two RBIs. He finished the exhibition season on a seven-game hitting streak despite arriving at camp late because of a bout with COVID-19 and a holdup in getting his work visa processed.

Park played second base, third base, shortstop and right field in nine spring training games. He is listed as one of nine infielders on the Pirates' roster.

Among other South Koreans, veteran left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin will open his 10th year in the majors as the No. 3 starter for the Toronto Blue Jays. San Diego Padres' second-year infielder Kim Ha-seong is expected to get a bulk of playing time at shortstop in the early going with the incumbent Fernando Tatis Jr. out with a wrist injury. Choi Ji-man will begin his fourth full season with the Tampa Bay Rays as their first baseman.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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