Molitor pleased with Park's spring performance

Manager feels Korean slugger adjusting well to Major League setting

Molitor pleased with Park's spring performance

JUPITER, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor knew of the power numbers Byung Ho Park had put up playing in Korea, but he wasn't sure how the slugger might adjust to Major League pitching. So far, Park appears to be making the adjustment just fine in Molitor's eyes.

"It's been a little better than I had expected," Molitor said of Park prior to the Twins' 8-4 win against the Marlins on Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium. "That's kudos to him for being the player he is and the hitter he is."

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Park went 1-for-4 Thursday with an RBI double that sparked a four-run eighth inning for the Twins. He now has a .300 batting average and has hit three home runs with 12 RBIs in 40 at-bats in his first Major League Spring Training.

"I thought upper-end velocity would be a little challenging for him, but he seems to have handled that well," Molitor said of Park, who signed with the Twins in December after playing the past 10 years in the Korean Baseball Organization.

Park was a two-time Most Valuable Player while playing in the KBO. He slugged 105 homers over the past two seasons and had at least 100 RBIs in each of the past four seasons playing in his homeland. Molitor has seen up close over the past month the kind of hitting prowess that made Park worthy of pursuing this offseason.

"He's got those attributes of a hitter," Molitor said. "Bat speed and bat quickness and eye-hand [coordination]. Little bit of a guess hitter, which is OK. Power hitters do that."

Park likely will be the designated hitter most of the time when he's in Molitor's lineup this year, but he also can be a viable backup at first base, where he started Thursday's game and made an acrobatic leaping catch of a high-and-wide throw from Brian Dozier on a double play in the fifth inning. Park applied the tag on the Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria to complete the 6-4-3 double play.

"He's done well when I've played him at first base," Molitor said. "My feeling after the spring he's had is, I'm not going to have to protect him as I thought. When the bell rings, you never know how it's going to go, [but] he's swung the bat well enough for me at this stage of camp where I think he's a guy who can contribute somewhere close to the middle of the lineup."

Molitor said he also has been impressed with Park's approach in his preparation.

"What I like is he doesn't try to hit a home run in batting practice," Molitor said. "We've watched him spray the ball around. I've seen him once in a while try to muscle up a little bit, which is fine because you want to have that feel, too. We're just trying to get him to buy in to what we're doing."

So far, that seems to be working for both Park and the Twins.

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.