FORT MYERS, Fla. – ByungHo Park has decided to remove the space from his first name. He’s also busy trying to remove the doubts about his future with the Twins.
The South Korean slugger lined his second home run of the spring Monday, and the Twins erupted for eight runs in the first three innings, then held on for their second straight Grapefruit League victory, 9-6 over the Miami Marlins.
Park, who has collected at least one hit in all three games he has played this spring, smacked a 96-mph fastball on an 0-2 pitch from Marlins starter Jose Urena onto the left-field berm, scoring Drew Stubbs ahead of him.
“It was nice to see,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Another two-strike at-bat where he was able to do something with the baseball.”
Park has also chosen a new English spelling for the Korean characters that make up his name. Concerned that people were calling him “Byung” rather than “ByungHo,” he informed the Twins this spring that he prefers the space be removed from the Americanized version.
If he keeps hitting the way he has in the early days of spring training, he can spell it “K-i-r-b-y” for all the Twins care. Park’s low liner was his second home run of the spring, and gives him a .571 average (4-for-7) as he returns from a disappointing, injury-filled rookie year, one that caused him to lose his spot on the Twins’ 40-man roster despite the $9.25 million he is owed through the 2019 season.
The Twins scored five runs in the second inning, stringing together four hits, a walk and a Miami error. The rally was capped by a Robbie Grossman double that scored two runs and knocked Marlins lefthander Justin Nicolino from the game in favor of former Twins lefthander Caleb Thielbar, who struck out Park and Jason Castro.
After taking a 7-0 lead behind Opening Day starter Ervin Santana, the Twins allowed the Marlins, whose lineup included only one projected starter, to rally for six runs. Four of the seven Twins relievers gave up runs, with only Michael Tonkin and Justin Haley emerging unscathed.
Santana breezed through two easy innings in his spring debut, needing barely two dozen pitches to record six outs.
“He was throwing strikes,” Molitor said. “A couple fastballs were hit through the infield, but he was very efficient.”