ANAHEIM, Calif. – Twins designated hitter Byung Ho Park reached first on an error in the seventh inning Monday, and pockets of fans around Angels Stadium of Anaheim roared with approval.
The noise was unmistakable, and Park heard the cheers from Korean baseball fans there to see him. He has now played in Seattle, Oakland and the Los Angeles area — where the Asian community is strong — and Park said Anaheim’s crowds were the biggest he has seen in his rookie season in the majors.
“There were quite a few Korean fans there during batting practice,” Park said, “so I got to shake their hands and write autographs, which I really appreciate.”
The timing, however, is not great.
His fans Monday saw him go 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, running his hitless streak to 0-for-11 with eight strikeouts in his past 12 plate appearances. They also didn’t see Park in the starting lineup on Tuesday, when manager Paul Molitor went with Oswaldo Arcia against Angels righthander Jhoulys Chacin. Part of the reason was that Arcia needs to play some and he’s a lefthanded hitter. The other is Park’s struggles, which might lead to more bench time.
“He’s having a tough time trusting right now,” Molitor said. “We see a lot of in-between approaches where he gets beat a little by the fastball and is out in front on the off-speed pitches. No complaints about how he’s trying to fix it.”
What Molitor and the coaching staff are trying to reaffirm with Park is that he has been a successful hitter in the past and has to just find an approach that he trusts.
“In the short term, there will be various days he will get a chance to watch and come off the bench,” Molitor added.
Molitor, hitting coach Tom Brunansky and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez are trying to keep Park’s confidence up. So is Park.
“When I’m in the batter’s box, I try not to think about anything other than how I’m going to square up what this guy is about to throw me,” Park said. “There’s a lot going on before the game and a lot of work I put in. I watch video with my coaches. But when you are not producing and not getting the results you want you lose your confidence, and that’s the worst thing you can do to yourself, especially when you are in the big leagues and competing every day. So I try to stay confident.”
Mixed results for Ramirez
New Twins reliever Neil Ramirez debuted in the ninth inning Monday and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, second baseman Johnny Giavotella.
In his last outing with Milwaukee on June 5, he gave up back-to-back homers to Jimmy Paredes and Cameron Rupp. He was designated for assignment after that, and claimed off waivers by the Twins.
But Molitor saw some of the good things he’s heard about Ramirez — a good fastball and a biting slider — and thinks he can help. He just doesn’t have a defined role for Ramirez right now.
“There’s not really a long role,” Molitor said. “There’s nothing really specific. I told him we need pitching, we need fresh arms, and you’ll get an opportunity. He’s excited to be here.”
• The Twins this week are participating in the prostate cancer home run challenge, a joint venture of Major League Baseball and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The club has pledged $10,000 for every home run hit by a Twins player this week and $1,000 for every strikeout registered by a Twins pitcher.
• Relief prospect Nick Burdi, who hasn’t pitched for Class AA Chattanooga since April 28 because of a bone bruise near his elbow, is having a second MRI done to check his progress. He remains out indefinitely.