Byung Ho Park will start the 2017 season as the Twins’ designated hitter, while Kennys Vargas, also competing for the same spot, likely heads to the minors with a one-way ticket to Triple-A Rochester.
That’s the only logical outcome after the spring Park has had, compared to what Vargas did in March. To be fair, Vargas spent most of the month with team Puerto Rico and played better than he did with the Twins. But with the Twins, he is hitting .067, while Park spent most of the month flirting with .400. He also has hit five home runs, including his fifth on Tuesday, and leads the team in hits with 17.
It’s a nice comeback story for Park. Last season, his first in the majors, Park got off to a quick start and then slumped badly to earn a demotion to the minors. That was followed by a decision to have surgery on his right hand, followed by an offseason decision from Falvey & Co. to designate him for assignment. No team claimed him during that process, so Park returned to the Twins and got an invite to spring training.
After he was designated for assignment, I was one of those who declared him a bust for the Twins and compared him to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the ballplayer from Japan who did next to nothing for the club.
Park, so far, has proved me wrong.
-Phil Hughes pitched a very Phil Hughes-like game his last start. He managed to give the Twins six innings, but gave up four earned runs early before settling down. The tendency to give up the big inning early has hurt Hughes in recent years and it’s one area of his game that needs to change and change fast for the Twins to be successful. How much influence will catcher Jason Castro have over the rotation? We will find out.