Chan Ho Park officially joined the Phillies today.
So did Marcus Giles.
Looking for infield depth as Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz recover from offseason surgeries, the Phillies signed Giles to a $600,000 minor-league contract. Giles will get a look in spring training. The former Braves second baseman did not play last season after being released by Colorado in spring training. Park, who agreed on a major-league deal worth $2.5 million last month, was in Philadelphia today. He passed a physical exam, then made it clear that he's ready to compete for the No. 5 spot in the team's starting pitching rotation.
"My goal is to be a starter," Park said. "Hopefully I can make it."
Park is so intent on being a starter that he may not pitch for his native Korea in the World Baseball Classic in March. As much as he'd like to, he wonders if it might be better to concentrate on making a good showing for his new team.
"It's more fun to be a starter," Park said. "Every five days, people in Korea plan on watching the game. That's a big part of the game at this point of my career."
Park, 117-92 in a career that began as a 21-year-old in 1994, joins a crowded cast of candidates for the fifth starter's job. J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick are the lead candidates, but Adam Eaton, Carlos Carrasco and Drew Carpenter will all get looks. It's possible that Park could end up in the bullpen.
"Let's think about that later," he said with a laugh.
Here is more of what Park had to say:
On joining the Phillies: “It was enjoyable watching the Phillies win the World Series and it’s an honor to be with this team. One of the things I like about this team is it is championship caliber. I’d like to help the team get in the World Series again.”
On being in the Dodgers bullpen in 2008: “It was OK. Starting is better and more fun. Every five days people in Korea plan on watching the game. That’s a big part of the game at this point in my career.”
On the possibility of him retiring before last season: “I talked to my family [about it]. The whole country doesn’t want me to quit. It was a big challenge coming back and I wanted to sign with the Dodgers because I had a lot of memories there. They were the team I started with. I made [the team], then pitched well. It was special year.”
On his velocity: “I made adjustments in spring training. My fastball topped out at 97 and I couldn’t believe it. I usually sit 94-95 [mph].”
On his free agency: “Five teams tried to sign me, but the Phillies were the only team that said I had a chance to start. The Dodgers made no effort to re-sign me.”
On Philadelphia: “The new stadium is nice and downtown is nice. It’s one of my favorite [cities].”