SAN DIEGO -- What costs $15 million this season, no longer clocks in for work in the first inning ... and has given every indication that the reduced workload might be the best thing to happen to both him and his team?
|Chan Ho Park hopes to start soon for the Padres, but starting hasn't been his strong suit. (Getty Images)|
Almost overnight, Park went from being known simply as The Worst Contract in Baseball to a guy with ... hold your breath here ... possibilities.
Yes, words normally associated with dating services suddenly are being tagged on Park.
"He's a swingman," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley says. "He could start, relieve. ..."
Whoa. We've seen Park start.
Since signing that five-year, $65 million deal with Texas before the 2002 season -- another example of Rangers owner Tom Hicks having the vision of Mr. Magoo -- Park has won exactly 26 games.
But then a funny, nationalistic sort of thing happened with Park this spring. While pitching for Korea and overcome with pride while suiting up with his countrymen, he agreed to answer the age-old call of, 'Whatever you need, skip."
So, in 10 WBC innings while pitching for Korea -- one start that lasted five innings, the rest in relief -- he didn't allow a run, didn't walk a batter ... and collected three saves. Snapped up Taiwan, Japan and Mexico in the ninth innings like so many M&Ms.
Suddenly, games were melting in Chan Ho's mouth, not in his hands.