'Nervous' Park fans 3 times in debut

'Nervous' Park fans 3 times in debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Korean slugger Byung Ho Park's Grapefruit League debut didn't exactly go as he envisioned it, as he struck out three times while serving as designated hitter for the Twins in a 7-4 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday at JetBlue Park.

Park's first at-bat came with the bases loaded and two outs in the first, but he struck out swinging against lefty Henry Owens to end the inning. Park struck out swinging again in the third against right-hander Noe Ramirez and looking in the fifth facing lefty Brian Johnson.

"It was the first game, so I gotta admit I was a little nervous," Park said through interpreter J.D. Kim. "But it was the first game, so I'm not going to make too much of it. I feel good I got the first one out of the way."

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Park, who signed a four-year, $12 million deal this offseason after the Twins submitted a winning posting fee of $12.85 million, said he wasn't overwhelmed by the quality of pitches, but he is working on his timing this early in spring.

"The stuff they were throwing wasn't that much different than what I saw in Korea," Park said. "But it's just the first game. This time of year the pitchers are far ahead of the position players. They're in their game shape and I'm just trying to get ready. I'm just tracking the ball trying to get ready for the season."

Park, a two-time MVP Award winner in the Korean Baseball Organization, is expected to get plenty of playing time this spring to help him adjust to Major League pitching. But Park said it's not something he asked for from manager Paul Molitor.

"That's totally up to Mollie," Park said. "That's not my call. If I'm not in the lineup, I'll be in the dugout trying to see the pitches and learn from the pitchers."

Molitor said he's not worried at all about Park's debut and said he plans on being patient with Park this spring, as he knows how difficult it is for him to make the transition to the Majors.

"I'm sure he was excited and possibly a bit nervous, because there's been a lot of anticipation since everything fell into place with him coming over here," Molitor said. "You just pat him on the back and encourage patience. He's just trying to get a feel here. Everyone is kind of starting at square one. But as we've talked about all along, we're going to get him some at-bats, and we believe he can hit."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.