Park vows to play sea­son without in­jury

The Korea Times - - SPORTS - (Yon­hap)

South Korean base­ball slug­ger Park Byung-ho may have proved his rep­u­ta­tion in the Korea Base­ball Or­ga­ni­za­tion (KBO) League this sea­son, but he still has re­grets.

The Nexen He­roes vet­eran led the league in on-base (.457) and slug­ging per­cent­ages (.718), and fin­ished just one home run be­hind Kim Jae-hwan, the 2018 reg­u­lar sea­son MVP who blasted 44 home runs.

Park re­ceived best hit­ter ac­co­lades from two base­ball awards, one pre­sented by the Korea Pro­fes­sional Base­ball Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion (KPBAA).

But Park knows he could have done bet­ter if he played the sea­son without an in­jury.

In 2018, Park played 113 out of 144 games that the He­roes played this sea­son af­ter suf­fer­ing a calf in­jury ear­lier this year.

“It’s my fault, so I re­ally have some re­grets,” Park said Thurs­day.

“This year’s goal was to play all games be­cause I thought that’s what I can do for the He­roes that brought me back. It’s pity that I couldn’t achieve that goal.”

Park, 32, re­turned to the He­roes this year af­ter hav­ing a frus­trat­ing two-year stint with the Min­nesota Twins in Ma­jor League Base­ball (MLB).

Park played all KBO League games for three con­sec­u­tive sea­sons start­ing from 2012 even though he had sus- tained mi­nor in­juries.

Af­ter re­cov­er­ing from an in­jury, Park, the only KBO hit­ter to have hit 50 home runs in back-to-back sea­sons, showed his fire­power and helped the He­roes fin­ish fourth in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

In the KBO post­sea­son, the He­roes then beat the Kia Tigers in the wild card game and edged the Han­wha Ea­gles in the first round be­fore get­ting knocked out by even­tual Korean Series cham­pi­ons SK Wyverns 3-2 in the best-of-five se­cond round play­off series.

The He­roes were close to pull off a late drama against the Wyverns as they scored five runs in the top of the ninth in­ning to force Game 5 into ex­tra in­ning ac­tion.

How­ever, the Wyvern’s Han Dong-min’s walk-off home run later ended the He­roes’ jour­ney.

Park strug­gled in the play­off against the Wyverns as he went 3-for-13.

But one of his hits was a two-run shot from Game 5 that lev­eled the score in the top of the ninth.

“If I didn’t get that home run, I wasn’t able to keep my head up,” he said.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed that I couldn’t de­liver good per­for­mance in the play­off.”

Put­ting dis­ap­point­ments be­hind, Park vowed that he will show a bet­ter per­for­mance next sea­son.

“I need to work hard in this win­ter,” he said. “I want to pre­pare well for the next sea­son to play more games and stay healthy.”

Yon­hap

Nexen He­roes’ in­fielder Park Byung-ho speaks dur­ing the Korea Pro­fes­sional Base­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Awards at L Tower in south­ern Seoul, Thurs­day, af­ter win- ning the Hit­ter of the Year Award.

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