A little patience by Park will do goodIn professional sports, the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude is nothing new. Considering the tremendous amount of money that athletes are paid, it should come as no surprise that yesterday’s stars get hung out to dry if they don’t perform up to par today.
As a player in major league baseball since 1994, Park Chan-ho of the Texas Rangers is all too familiar with this phenomenon, especially since his poor record of 1-3 and a 7.58 ERA has drawn quite a bit of flak from both the media and fans.
Park is now focused on recovering from his back injury, and I’m betting that the Rangers won’t likely gamble on him by throwing him back into the lineup.
With a 43-63 record, the Rangers are dead last in the American League West division going into the second half of the season. It is safe to say that this team will not go anywhere but home when the regular season ends.
The Rangers are already preparing to rebuild themselves for the next season, busy making trades focused on improving their pitching rotation. They need a group of consistent starting pitchers, and the front office is not willing anymore to spend the big bucks.
Banking on young prospects like Joaquin Benoit, who have made their way up the Rangers’ farm system, seems to be the management’s new strategy.
Now the question is: Where does Park fit in?
For now, his place seems secure; his fat salary and back injury have left the Rangers no choice but to keep Park, since no other ball club is willing to pick up his expensive tab.
We haven’t heard much from Park lately, and I am hoping it is because he is 100 percent focused on his rehabilitation.
In a recent interview, Park said that he wanted to come back late this season so that he doesn’t lose his feel for the ball. The Rangers maintain that Park’s comeback date is tentative, perhaps suggesting their own skepticism in allowing him to play this season.
Park’s goal seems shortsighted, and the managers seem wise in thinking long-term. In previous instances when the Rangers allowed Park to play immediately after injuries that he insisted he had fully recovered from, he was pummeled. It is little wonder that the team is unwilling to assume any more risks.
I would like to see a better relationship between Park and the Ranger skipper, Buck Showalter. Park put a dent in the relationship when he pitched without letting the skipper know of his pain.
It is common for Korean athletes to overcome pain for the sake of play, but Park must understand that the Rangers would rather see him healthy to perform better in the long haul than to play despite injuries to pile up a few wins in the short run.
Park should only be allowed to work with the confirmation of his full recovery by medical experts.
His goal should be to recuperate as soon as possible so that he can perform strongly throughout the coming season.
He does not need to worry about securing a spot in the rotation because I think that, based on the current situation, and provided he is healthy, he’ll have a spot assured in Texas.
by Brian Lee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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