CLEVELAND – Byung Ho Park’s adjustment to Major League Baseball has been quicker than the Twins expected. Now they are beginning to see what he can do against pitchers he is familiar with.
On April 27, Park hit a home run off Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin at Target Field. On Friday, Park stepped into a rematch with Tomlin and belted a pair of home runs off him.
This week, the Twins head to Detroit, where they are scheduled to face Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey — two pitchers Park faced at Target Field earlier in the season. And Park homered off Zimmermann on April 30.
“He’s the type of player that, as he accumulates at-bats against people, it is going to work very well in his favor,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think he registers those things and is able to apply them in his approach from at-bat to at-bat.
“I think it is going to help.”
The age-old debate is over who has the advantage, the hitter or the pitcher, the more they see each other. Park didn’t feel like he gained much of an advantage facing Tomlin on Friday.
“I wouldn’t say it gave me confidence,” Park said. “It definitely helped knowing what he throws and what his stuff is like. But the home runs I hit, he was missing pitches. He made mistakes and I got lucky.”
Park’s nine home runs lead all AL rookies. He has also hit more home runs in his first 30 games than any Twins rookie. Marty Cordova is next with seven hit in 1995, followed by Joe Mauer with six in 2004.
The Twins traded righthander J.R. Graham to the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Graham’s tenure with the Twins ends after they selected him from Atlanta in the Rule 5 draft last year.
Graham, 26, failed the make the Twins out of spring training and was sent Class AAA Rochester, where he posted a 10.80 ERA over eight games. He was called up nearly two weeks ago when the club needed emergency relief help and made one appearance, giving up a bases-loaded double to Houston’s Jose Altuve.
When the Twins decided to shake up the roster earlier this month, they designated Graham for assignment. It made for some head-scratching, as the Twins had to keep him in the majors for the entire 2015 season.
“I think he had some really nice runs for us,” said Molitor, who spoke with Graham on the phone Saturday. “We ran into some roster situations. It’s not the best of scenarios when you keep a guy, then can’t find a way to keep him the following year. That probably doesn’t happen too often.”
• The plan for righthander Kyle Gibson (sore shoulder) is to have him throw a 45-pitch bullpen session Monday at Target Field. If that goes well, he will throw live batting practice Thursday. The next step would be for him to go out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
• Molitor said closer Glen Perkins (sore shoulder) is getting close to throwing in the bullpen. Perkins, who has not pitched since the first week of the season, has thrown from 90 feet a couple times and is making enough progress to where he could climb on a mound in the next week or so.
• The Indians put star outfielder Michael Brantley back on the 15-day disabled list because of recurring right shoulder inflammation that stems from an injury suffered at Target Field last September.