DH leads Twins with 12 homers, has struggled with RISP
By Do-Hyoung Park
MINNEAPOLIS -- With Miguel Sano sidelined by a hamstring injury and Oswaldo Arcia recently designated for assignment, there has been added pressure on the Twins' other power bats, particularly designated hitter Byung Ho Park, to produce for Minnesota's inconsistent offense.
Although Park has particularly struggled with runners in scoring position this season, he took a promising step in Minnesota's 7-6 loss to the Yankees at Target Field on Saturday, clubbing a two-run homer as part of a three-RBI afternoon.
"You're looking for baby steps there," said manager Paul Molitor. "It's been a battle for him to drive in runs when they've been out there in scoring position, and it's become more mental, I think, than anything. We're just trying to get him to relax a little bit and do what he does. I hope he builds on it. It was a better day."
After hitting a fly ball to the warning track in deep left-center field in his first at-bat, Park took a first-pitch 96-mph fastball from Michael Pineda the other way and hit a homer -- projected at 401 feet by Statcast™ -- his team-leading 12th long ball, over the high wall in right-center field to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
He added a sacrifice fly to center field in the sixth inning that brought Brian Dozier home and extended Minnesota's lead to 4-0. The three RBIs tied Park's career high from May 13, a two-homer performance against Cleveland.
"As everybody knows, I have not been very productive, and I haven't been getting the results that I've wanted, and I have not been very helpful to the team," Park said through an interpreter. "I'm just trying to stay confident, and that's all I'm concerned about."
The 29-year-old Korean slugger is a meager 6-for-50 (.120) with 10 RBIs with runners in scoring position. He has struggled at the plate overall in June, hitting .180 with 17 strikeouts and six walks in 61 plate appearances.
Molitor has said he thought Park was "tensing up" before at-bats with runners in scoring position, and the two had a meeting a few days ago in which Molitor cautioned Park against making too many adjustments, instead asking him have confidence in the form and technique that has made him successful.
"We talked about making adjustments," Park said. "Recently, I've been making a lot of adjustments -- almost day to day -- and we talked about that making too many adjustments during the season may not be too helpful, so I'm just trying to do it with what I have right now."
Molitor has said he will continue to get Park regular at-bats to help him continue to adjust to Major League pitching and regain the stroke that saw him hit 105 home runs in his last two seasons in Korea.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.