By Yoon Chul
Park Chan-ho's first trip to the World Series did not turn out as he'd hoped, but the Philadelphia Phillies reliever said Tuesday he was just happy to be a part of it.
The South Korean veteran major leaguer made his return to Korea and addressed the media Tuesday in Seoul, discussing his experience on baseball's biggest stage and his future.
"I couldn't sleep during the World Series. When the series went to 3-2, I expected a lot," Park said.
"I was disappointed that we didn't become World Series champions but the Yankees played really well. I felt they were very strong. But I had been wondering when I was going to get a chance like this."
Park missed time with an injury near the end of the season and didn't play in the National League Division Series but did get some work in the World Series. He pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in four appearances, giving up just two hits.
"I was satisfied in getting a chance to pitch four times. I believe I showed my team that I am someone they needed. It was a really special experience."
It was, at times, a tumultuous season for the 36-year-old. He began the season in the rotation but was eventually moved to the bullpen after a few bad starts.
"It was actually hard to play as reliever. When I was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I came into the game when one team was leading by a wide margin. But on the Phillies I pitched in many pressure situations. So I needed to ensure I was ready for that pressure when I entered the game in the fifth or sixth inning. I believe it made me stronger."
"Still, being a starter is more attractive for me, because I can take over a whole game," added Park.
The right hander is a free agent this winter and his comments indicate that he may not be back in a Phillies uniform next spring.
"I want to be starter again. I am still talking with my agent about a contract. I just heard a team has contacted us. I had expected that but I don't know if I have to make a deal in a hurry or not."
When Park moved to the United States he went with three goals, to play until he's 40, earn 200 victories and get that World Series championship ring.
Now, he may face a situation where he has to decide between being a starter or playing for a contender.
"I considered both. It's fine pitching in the bullpen for a World Series champion. The most important thing is that I felt with the Phillies, it was very valuable experience for me," Park continued.
"Though Philadelphia was not my favorite when I first joined the team, the fans did support me a lot. They gave me the nickname "Chapper." I felt really good. And the mood of the Phillies is really fantastic.
"I would really enjoy playing for the Phillies again but my first consideration in making my decision is finding a circumstance that is right for me."
"I want to play for the Phillies again, but I also wouldn't mind joining a team I've never played with before, like the Yankees," he added.
Park also addressed why he feels he failed as a starter early in the season and how he plans to recover his power.
"The problems were mental. I was good in spring camp but I put too much pressure on myself to do well. And it made me very stressed because I didn't want to lose my spot in the rotation. Also, I think my injured right hamstring may have been a reason as well."
Park says he believes recovering from that injury allowed him to refocus.
"Once I recovered from the injury, (my hamstring) was stronger than ever. I did a lot of training with my trainer Lee Chang-ho, who was very helpful. It helped me to think more positively and forget bad memories easily. I only concerned myself with getting better and it worked."
Park also acknowledged his fans back home.
"It was a really good season and lots of Koreans supported me. I want to say thank you to them. I felt pride playing in the United States as a Korean."