Former Twins in KBO roundup: Park homers, Rucinski sparkles

While we wait for any news regarding the return of Major League Baseball, the Korean Baseball Organization started its 2020 season — sans fans — Tuesday (well, overnight Monday here).

Three former Minnesota Twins players are currently on a KBO roster: first baseman ByungHo Park (Kiwoom Heroes), utility man Taylor Motter (Kiwoon Heroes) and right-handed pitcher Drew Rucinski (NC Dinos).

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Motter and Rucinski merely had cups of coffee with the Twins. Minnesota claimed Motter off waivers in 2018, and he registered just one hit and two walks in nine games before being released.

Rucinski signed a minor-league deal with the Twins in 2017 and made two relief appearances, allowing 10 hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Park, though, is memorable. Minnesota signed the slugging first baseman to a four-year deal worth $12 million in 2015 after he mashed 53 homers in the KBO.

However, Park’s power never translated to the big leagues. He logged a .191/.275/.409 slash line with 12 homers, 24 RBI and 80 strikeouts in 244 plate appearances (62 games) for Minnesota in 2016. He spent all of 2017 at Triple-A Rochester before asking to be released in order to return to the KBO.

Back to his slugging ways in the KBO, Park’s 2020 season started with a jolt Monday night.

Park went 3 for 5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in the season opener, leading the Kiwoom Heroes to an 11-2 rout over the Kia Tigers. Park launched his dinger off of Hong Gun-hee in the eighth inning.

Batting seventh and getting the start at third base for the Heroes, Motter went 1 for 4 with an RBI and two strikeouts.

Rucinski, who started 30 games for the Dinos last season, was named the team’s opening day starter. The former Twins hurler allowed just three hits and no runs over six innings pitched while fanning six and walking four, helping NC to a 4-0 shutout of the Samsung Lions.

All in all, not a bad opening night for the former Twins.