MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Green grass at Target Field is a distant summer memory. That’s why a winter acquisition has baseball fans like Scott Billeaudeau warming up.
“That’s the hole that we need (to fill). They need a power hitter so I think it’s a real big hole they’re plugging,” Billeaudeau said.
The team’s hope for more offensive power arrived Wednesday at a Target Field news conference. Byung Ho Park flashed a smile as he modeled a Twins jersey sporting his name and the No. 52.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said the Korean home run slugger will be the team’s designated hitter and occasionally substitute at first base.
“He led the Korean Baseball Organization in home runs and RBIs four years in a row,” Ryan said.
Speaking through a Korean translator, Park said he’s up to the challenge of hitting major league pitching. One thing is for sure, Park will get some pointers from one of baseball’s best.
“After he found out the Minnesota Twins won the bidding for him he was excited to meet Joe Mauer and was honored to meet him today,” Jae Woong Han, Park’s translator, said.
Mauer was on hand for Wednesday’s introduction of Park, along with a half-dozen members of the Korean media.
“I was excited to chat with him a little while and welcome him to the team. I’m excited to get to spring training and get on the field and help any way I can,” Mauer said.
Married with a 16-month old son, Park says that getting settled and acclimated to Minnesota’s winter weather is the more immediate challenge.
“He’s heard the weather’s really cold,” Park’s translator said with a laugh.
Over the frozen Target Field towers a warm Minnesota welcome on the centerfield scoreboard. It simply reads, “Welcome Byung Ho Park.”
It’s a message to the player the Twins are counting on to put both fans and fastballs into the seats.
“This is a good thing for us now, we’re looking for offense and he’s going to help provide some of the offense we lost with Tori Hunter,” Ryan said.