SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – Former Minnesota Twins slugger Park Byung-ho will return home next Tuesday, more than a month after re-signing with his former South Korean club and ending his brief big league stint.
The Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Wednesday Park is scheduled to arrive at Incheon International Airport next Tuesday afternoon. After arriving he’ll hold a press conference at an adjacent hotel, starting at 6 p.m.
On Nov. 27 last year, the Heroes announced that they had re-acquired Park on a one-year deal worth 1.5 billion won (US$1.4 million). The 31-year-old had spent five seasons with the Heroes before moving to Major League Baseball (MLB) for the 2016 season. The Heroes said Park will again don his old No. 52.
Park played in 62 games for the Twins in his first big league season, hitting .191 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs. He was demoted to Triple-A Rochester in midseason and never again returned to the majors. Park was removed from the Twins’ 40-man roster early in 2017 and spent the entire season in Triple-A, batting .253 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in 111 games.
He signed a four-year contract with the Twins worth $12 million in December 2012, and had two years remaining on the deal, with a club option in 2020 for $6.5 million or a $500,000 buyout. But Park asked the Twins to release him from the remainder of the contract and the club obliged.
The numbers Park put up in MLB paled in comparison to some gaudy stats he posted in the KBO, where he won MVP awards in 2012 and 2013.
Park won his first MVP by leading the league with 31 home runs and 105 RBIs. He was voted MVP the following season as well, once again leading the KBO with 37 home runs and 117 RBIs.
Then in 2014 and 2015, Park exploded for 52 and 53 home runs, becoming the first KBO player with back-to-back 50-homer seasons. In 2014, he drove in a KBO-high 124 runs, and set a single-season record in 2015 with 146 RBIs.
Park is the only player in KBO history to lead the league in both home runs and RBIs in four consecutive seasons.
Park struggled to live up to expectations in the majors. He belted six home runs in his first 19 big league games, but his production quickly went downhill from there. His 2016 season ended prematurely due to a hand injury.
Despite batting .353 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 19 spring training games last year, Park didn’t get the call to the majors that some felt he deserved.
He will now try to get his groove back in a familiar uniform.