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."
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."
Alvarez promoted to cleanup spot
MIAMI -- Pedro Alvarez's recent offensive tear prompted manager John Russell to bump the rookie third baseman up one spot into the cleanup hole on Saturday. Though this decision may have been a byproduct of Alvarez's recent results, it could very well become the norm in 2011.
After starting off initially in the No. 6 spot, Alvarez has spent most of his rookie season hitting fifth behind Garrett Jones. Saturday marked the 10th time Alvarez has hit fourth, though six of the previous nine came when Jones was out of the lineup entirely.
Russell has shown consistency in keeping Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker penciled into the lineup's top three spots. With Alvarez's power and run-producing ability, he seems a natural fit to slide into the No. 4 hole next season.
"Ultimately, the lineup is the manager's decision," general manager Neal Huntington said, when asked of that possibility. "But as we look ahead to the lineup composition, we've got some interesting pieces that you could mix and match.
"Pedro is probably the consummate four-hole hitter, with the raw power that can change the game with one swing of the bat. But we still want to continue to develop him as a hitter. In a perfect world, he's good enough to hit No. 3 for us. That means he's hitting and hitting with power. That's ultimately where we need him to be."
Alvarez entered Saturday's game having reached base safely in his last 19 games and riding an 11-game hitting streak. With his 16th home run of the season on Friday, Alvarez now holds the club rookie record for a Pittsburgh third baseman. Since Aug. 28, Alvarez has hit .306 with six homers and 29 RBIs.
With two strikeouts on Friday night, Joel Hanrahan was two shy of reaching 100 for the first time in his career. Entering Saturday's game, Hanrahan's 98 K's ranked fourth in the Majors among relievers. ... Entering Saturday, the Pirates' pitching staff had struck out 1,009 batters this season, which is the highest total since 2006 (1,060). This is just the 10th time in team history that the Pirates have struck out more than 1,000 hitters in a year. ... Jose Tabata (.304) and Neil Walker (.300) still have a chance to become the first set of Pittsburgh rookies to hit .300 or better since 1899. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jimmy Williams (.355) and Ginger Beaumont (.352) last accomplished the feat. ... Tabata entered the weekend with a 14-game hitting streak, the longest by any player in the National League. This is the rookie's second hitting streak of at least 12 games this season.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.