Twins activate Sano, option Park to Rochester

Miguel to mostly see time at DH, 3B; club hasn't lost confidence in departed DH

July 1st, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins reinstated Miguel Sano from the 15-day disabled list and optioned struggling designated hitter Byung Ho Park to Triple-A Rochester before Friday's game against the Rangers.

Sano, out since May 31 with a strained left hamstring, hit .160 with two homers, two RBIs and 10 strikeouts in eight rehab games with Rochester. He played in a doubleheader on Thursday, going 1-for-6 with a run scored.

Sano played both right field and third base at Rochester, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he will mostly see time at DH and third -- and will only be used in right field in case of emergency, essentially ending the outfield experiment. He started at third base and batted third in Friday's 3-2, 10-inning loss to Texas and went 0-for-3 with a walk, but he made an outstanding barehanded play in the field.

"It's good day, bad day," Molitor said. "Miggy was out a month, roughly, but thankfully he got back faster than we had hoped. His at-bats were coming along down there. Him coming up is a positive for us. Byung Ho, we've talked about him a lot this year as a big story coming over from Korea. We like his character and the way he's fit in, not only to our team, but our culture. But it's been rough."

Park, who was signed by the Twins to a four-year deal worth $12 million this offseason after the club won the rights to negotiate by placing a winning posting fee of $12.85 million, had scuffled during June. The 29-year-old hit .136 with three homers, six RBIs and 27 strikeouts in 76 plate appearances last month.

Park had seen his playing time decrease lately, and he was 2-for-38 over his last 11 games. He made three starts in the club's six-game road trip against the Yankees and White Sox.

"I think it's been really, really tough on him mentally to deal with some of the frustration that came over the last three or four weeks," Molitor said. "While he was understanding and certainly accepting, he's going to have to go down there and lessen the burden a little bit and get back to the pleasures of playing the game."

Park, a two-time MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization who hit a combined 105 homers with the Nexen Heroes over the last two seasons, started out the season well, hitting .268/.351/.598 with seven homers and 12 RBIs through his first 25 games. But he's batted .143/.227/.293 with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last 37 games. He's also hitting .115 with runners in scoring position this year.

Molitor said Park might be feeling pressure from his home country of Korea to play well, especially after seeing his fellow countrymen such as Jung Ho Kang, Hyun Soo Kim and Dae-Ho Lee excel this season.

"You look at his track record as a player, and along with the power and the strikeouts, he had an ability to drive in runs," Molitor said. "But I think from the beginning, he was frustrated he didn't do better with runners in scoring position. I think he just lost confidence in some of the things he's done. But we made sure to tell him before he left that we think his style of hitting will play here."