Chan Ho Park made is first start with the Mets yesterday and settled down after a rough first start. Take a read as to what I had in The Journal News this morning.
By JOHN DELCOS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 8, 2007)
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Chan Ho Park hasn’t felt right in four years, so he was entitled to a rusty start.
It was how he quickly scraped the rust off that was impressive.
A lingering back injury during his three years with Texas, followed by emergency stomach surgery last August, which interrupted what he hoped would be a comeback season with San Diego, put the 33-year-old pitcher on baseball’s junk pile.
The Mets hoped that was a premature assessment when they signed him to be in a group of seven to compete for their fifth starter’s job.
His debut delayed last week while his work visa was being processed, Park overcame a rocky first inning to pitch what could be considered three passable innings in yesterday’s 9-5 loss against the Boston Red Sox.
“No matter how many times you do this, it’s foreign the first time out,” manager Willie Randolph said. “I wasn’t looking for anything more than what I saw.”
Before yesterday, Park’s spring had been limited to batting practice and a minor-league game.
“It seems like it has been a long time,” Park said of his return to the mound. “It’s the first game, so that’s normal.”
Spring-training normal was 54 pitches, 30 of which came in the first inning when he walked two, gave up a single and escaped the inning with one run scored on a hard-hit fielder’s choice.
It was a combination of rust and nerves that ambushed Park in the first.
“I felt good (physically),” Park said. “But I think I was overthrowing. Every game you have a plan, and the first game was trying to be consistent with my fastball.”
He was in two of three innings, and that’s what impressed David Wright.
“He couldn’t find it in the first inning, but he established himself after that,” Wright said. “That’s big time. That tells you a lot about a pitcher.”
Another fifth-starter candidate, Aaron Sele, couldn’t make the adjustments and was rocked for four runs in two innings.
“That was a typical spring-training game,” Sele said. “I threw some good pitches and I threw some pitches that weren’t so good.”
Randolph said he wasn’t concerned about Sele, saying “he’s a good pitcher,” but if he strings together three or four like yesterday, “well, that’s a different matter.”
Also not making good pitches was reliever Ambiorix Burgos, who walked one and gave up three hits, including a grand slam to Ed Rogers to end the game.
“He’s a big, strong guy,” Randolph said. “And, like most guys in spring training, is working on his location. He got a fastball up, and that’s when he gets in trouble.”
Around the horn: Pedro Martinez played catch for 10 minutes from a distance of 45 feet at the Port St. Lucie complex. … Carlos Delgado did not make the trip because of his stiff neck and might not play today. “When he’s ready, he’ll play,” Randolph said. … Orlando Hernandez will make his first appearance of the spring since being sidelined Feb. 22 with arthritis in his neck. … Owner Fred Wilpon made the trip. … First baseman Wil Cordero, 35, was signed to a minor-league contract.