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Ex-MVP Park Byung-ho returns to KBO after brief MLB stint

2017/11/27 12:28

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SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- After a brief and largely unsuccessful stint in the majors, slugger Park Byung-ho rejoined his former South Korean club on Monday.

The Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced their signing of Park for a one-year deal worth 1.5 billion won (US$1.4 million). The former Minnesota Twins designated hitter/first baseman had spent five seasons with the Heroes before moving to Major League Baseball (MLB) for the 2016 season.

Park played in 62 games in his first big league season, hitting .191 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs. He was demoted to Triple-A Rochester in midseason and never again returned to the majors.

In this file photo taken Feb. 2, 2017, South Korean slugger Park Byung-ho waves to fans at Incheon International Airport before leaving to join the Minnesota Twins for spring training. Park rejoined his former South Korean club, Nexen Heroes, on Nov. 27, 2017. (Yonhap) In this file photo taken Feb. 2, 2017, South Korean slugger Park Byung-ho waves to fans at Incheon International Airport before leaving to join the Minnesota Twins for spring training. Park rejoined his former South Korean club, Nexen Heroes, on Nov. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

Park was taken off the Twins' 40-man roster earlier this year and spent the entire season in Triple-A, batting .253 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in 111 games.

He'd agreed a four-year contract with the Twins worth $12 million. He was signed through 2019, with a club option in 2020 for $6.5 million or $500,000 buyout.

According to the Heroes, the Twins accepted Park's request to release him from the remainder of his contract.

After putting up some gaudy numbers in the KBO, Park struggled to live up to his hype in the majors.

Park belted out six home runs in his first 19 big league games, but things quickly went downhill from there. His 2016 season ended prematurely with a hand injury.

Despite batting .353 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 19 spring training games, Park didn't get the call to the majors that some felt he deserved.

He will now try to get his stroke back in a familiar uniform.

Park earned his first KBO MVP honors in 2012 by leading the league with 31 home runs and 105 RBIs. He was voted the MVP the very next season as well, once again leading the KBO with 37 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Then in 2014 and 2015, Park exploded for 52 and 53 home runs, becoming the first KBO player with back-to-back 50-homer seasons. He parlayed those monster years into a major league deal via posting, before returning home without playing out the contract.

In a statement released by the Heroes, Park said he has learned a great deal from his two years in the United States.

"I am disappointed with the way the past two years have gone, but I have no regrets," he said. "It was an opportunity for me to grow as a person. Now that I am back with my former club, I'd love to play better in front of the fans and hopefully lead the team to the postseason."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr

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