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Park isn't closing door on return to Pirates

Park isn't closing door on return to Pirates

MIAMI -- A day after recording his record-setting 124th career victory, Chan Ho Park said he is undecided about whether he will return to the Majors for an 18th season in 2011.

Park spoke as if he was leaning toward pitching at least one more season, though there are various factors that will influence his decision. One of the biggest will be how many teams show interest in Park, and whether any club would be willing to offer him a guaranteed Major League contract.

"I have to think about it and talk about it with my family," Park said. "I don't know. I hope so. I'm not sure exactly where."

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Park did express a willingness to return to Pittsburgh next season if there is mutual interest by the Pirates.

"It's a good team with a good future," Park said. "If I play for this team next year, a .500 or winning record is going to be a big goal for this team. I want to be a part of that and have that. We have so much talent here."

General manager Neal Huntington said the door is not closed on such a reunion.

"We've talked about it," Huntington said. "We'll certainly talk this offseason, but at this point in time, he's not expressed a definitive interest in coming back to us, nor have we expressed a definitive opportunity to have him come back. But out of respect to each other, we're keeping the door open."

Park has spent a little less than two months in a Pirates uniform, but the club is more than pleased with the impression he has left. On the field, Park overcame a shaky start and has posted a 1.93 ERA over his last 21 appearances. That included a dominant three-inning appearance on Friday, in which Park struck out six of the nine hitters he faced.

Off the field, Park has been lauded for mentoring a young bullpen group.

"He seems like a quality guy and a guy that the players rally around," Huntington said. "They genuinely like him. He was candid in that he didn't know what he was getting into when he came to the Pirates, but to his credit, he's come in here and he's wanted to be an asset. He's wanted to help us and he really has."

Once Park's Major League career is over, he said he plans to return to South Korea and play in the Korean Professional Baseball League. He also has ambitions to serve as an ambassador for baseball in his native country.

"I have a big love for my country and always think about how I can learn from here, and share it with Korea to develop Korean baseball," Park said. "I wish more players could come to this league. I want to show how good we are. Just like there are a lot of Japanese players here, I wish there were more Korean players here doing well."

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