Chan Ho Park doesn't agree with the assessment by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee that he's better suited to be a reliever than a starter at this stage in his career.
But the 35-year-old righthander, who lost his spot in the starting rotation to J.A. Happ a month ago, said he was willing to embrace his role as a middle reliever. Lately, he has been proving it.
"I'm getting used to it and I'm learning," Park said before last night's game against Toronto at Citizens Bank Park. "When you start, it's much easier for me, but now I have to do whatever to help the team."
Manuel said Park was more important to the team coming out of the bullpen. Especially now, when the bullpen is piling up innings and showing signs of weariness. In the last week, the Phillies have played four extra-inning games, and another game was delayed by rain 95 minutes after the first inning, leaving the last eight innings to the bullpen. Entering last night, their relievers had thrown 311/3 innings in the last six games.
Park gave the Phillies 21/3 innings of shutout pitching in Sunday's win over the Red Sox. He had not allowed an earned run in his last four appearances, covering eight innings, entering last night.
"I think he's tailor-made for this role," Manuel said. "To me, Chan Ho Park's stuff is better for two innings than it is for five or six at this point in his career."
Manuel used former Phillie Ryan Franklin as an example of a pitcher who wasn't thrilled about going to the bullpen, but is now having success as a reliever for the Cardinals.
"I put him in that same role a couple years ago and it took him a while to get used to it," Manuel said. "Well, you go ask him now what he thinks his role is. He thought he was a starter, and he kept having doubts about it. It is his role. Not only that, he's saving games now."
The Phillies wanted Park in the bullpen when they signed him during the off-season. He asked for a chance to win a starting job, and he did during spring training. But in his seven starts, he had a 7.29 ERA and Happ took his place.
"The No. 1 thing for me is I like to be a starter," said Park, who was a starter for most of his career before the Los Angeles Dodgers used him primarily out of the bullpen last season. "But for the team, being in the bullpen at the moment is more important."
Manuel chose Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Dodgers manager Joe Torre as his coaches for the 80th All-Star Game, which will be played July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Manuel said his picks were no-brainers. He thought it was appropriate to choose Torre because the Dodgers won the NL West last season, and La Russa because the game is in St. Louis and "the caliber of manager he is."
"It was very easy," Manuel said.
Harry Kalas has been selected for posthumous induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
The legendary Phillies broadcaster, who died April 13 after collapsing in the broadcast booth in Washington, was chosen along with Studs Terkel and Jose Miguel Agrelot. Terkel, who died Oct. 31, 2008, at the age of 96, had his own radio show in Chicago and was a best-selling author of oral histories. Agrelot was a well-known media personality in Puerto Rico before his death in 2004.