There was an interpreter present, but Tom Kelly doesn’t need a third party to get his point across. Turn your glove this way, shift your weight over here, raise your hand higher when you throw — Byung Ho Park speaks baseball, so he got the point.
The South Korean slugger had his first encounter with the first-base encyclopedia and former Twins manager Friday, spending more than an hour having his fielding technique inspected, critiqued and refined. And there’s plenty more work to be done, Kelly judged.
“There were a lot of things to clear up. I wanted to see his footwork, getting off the bag after holding a runner. How he spins toward second [base]. He has a little trouble finding the base. And he swings his arms sometimes as he runs,” Kelly said. “They seem like trivial things, nothing drastic. But you clean them up before they become a problem.”
That’s exactly what manager Paul Molitor had in mind when he asked Kelly to befriend the newcomer. “He’s well-known for fixing things right now. A lot of us try to do that, but we just don’t see as much as [Kelly] does,” Molitor said. “We are going to take the time we need to not let things slide.”
Park is projected to serve mostly as designated hitter, but he won awards for his defense at first in South Korea. So Molitor hopes to get him some time there, too. “He catches it fine,” Molitor said. “I think we are going to try to soften him up just a little bit. … We’re not trying to make him feel like we’re trying to change who he is. We’re just trying to find ways for him to do things a little bit better.”
Kelly has quite a few already. He demonstrated several tips for Park, from keeping his release point high on throws, to squaring his body to absorb incoming short hops. His assessment?
“It’s fine as a starting point. He has enough understanding where you could write his name [in the lineup] and not worry too much,” Kelly said. “He’s very attentive. He hasn’t been trained this way, but he was very receptive, very eager. I thought it was a good day for him.”
• Rod Carew has arrived in Florida and will be in uniform Saturday for the Twins’ first full-squad workout of the spring. The seven-time batting champion intends to coach bunting and baserunning as usual, despite having to wear a battery pack that has kept his heart beating since he suffered a heart attack on Sept. 20.
• Molitor had a phone conversation Friday with former Commissioner Bud Selig, who called to check in on how his former player is doing. “We talked about the game a little bit, about the labor situation a little bit,” said Molitor, who played for the Brewers from 1978 to ’92, while Selig owned the team. “I have so much respect. Our history goes back almost 40 years. A father figure, an owner, an adversary somewhat in labor. When I think about my respect for him, and when he calls, it’s one of those things you appreciate.”
• Kennys Vargas reported to camp, missing 14 pounds from his playing weight of last summer. He was among the last handful of players to report, but he’s had plenty of work lately. The third-year first baseman was named MVP of the Puerto Rican winter league, having smashed a league-leading seven home runs and batting .308 for Mayaguez.
2015 stats: 3-1, 1.00 ERA, 71 strikeouts, 14 walks in 54 innings with Somerset in independent Atlantic League, and was named Reliever of the Year.
Likely role: Reliever at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know? Boshers (pronounced Bo-SHEERS) struck out Jason Kipnis, the only batter he faced, in his major league debut with the Angels in 2013.