The Blue Jays Nightcap
Rich Dubee announced yesterday that the competition for the fifth spot in the Phillies’ rotation is officially underway. Chan Ho Park received the message. He allowed three hits and one run and struck out four in four innings tonight at Dunedin Stadium. Joe Inglett singled to right field to leadoff the first inning, but Park retired the next nine batters he faced. He allowed a run in the fourth inning, but worked out of that jam by getting an inning-ending double play.
Park might have had a little extra motivation tonight. Before the Phillies took the bus to Dunedin, Park watched South Korea beat Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic. Park declined to play for South Korea because he wanted to focus his energy on making the Phillies’ rotation. It was a difficult decision for him.
“I’m still dreaming to be there,” Park said.
But Park badly wants to start this season. He recalled in the late ’90s how South Korea was going through tough economic times and the country gathered around its TV sets every five days to watch Park pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a diversion from the reality of everyday life. Park wants that to happen again, and it can’t happen if he’s pitching in the bullpen.
“People are missing watching the games,” Park said. “People had a hard time (back then). They were happy watching my games every five days. I think now is the time. They have fun watching the games. This is why it’s very important. Being a starter has more meaning to me, my career and my fans in Korea. That’s why I’m working hard here.”
But there are other factors at work here than just how well Park pitches. The Phillies really could use Park in the bullpen, especially with J.C. Romero out until June 1. Say, if Park finishes the spring having pitched slightly better than another pitching candidate. Does Park get the starter’s job? Or do they put him in the bullpen?
“I think it’s where we think we need him the most,” Charlie Manuel said. “But at the same time, I feel like, and I’m sure Dubee does, too, if he’s better than somebody else we’ve got, why wouldn’t he do the job better every five days than in the pen for us for two innings? If he gets the job and take us into the sixth and seventh inning in the game, that helps fill out that place in the bullpen.”
Park said Jamie Moyer helped him recently with his changeup grip, which he thought he threw well tonight. … Geoff Jenkins hit a two-run double in the fourth inning. He also knocked in a run in the sixth. … Former Phillies righthander Geoff Geary had some interesting comments about Phillies fans in the Houston Chronicle.