Yankees' Park will go free rather than play in minors

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's first Major League Baseball player Park Chan-ho said he will become a free agent rather than play in the minors after the New York Yankees designated him for assignment.

The 37-year-old pitcher was dropped minutes before the July 31 non-waiver deadline to make way for the newly acquired Kerry Wood, Korea's Yonhap news reported on Monday.

"I was informed just three minutes before the deadline," he told his website (www.chanhopark61.com). "If there is no interest I will be a free agent and contact teams like three years ago."

Park had been released from the New York Mets in 2007 but made a comeback with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 and went to the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies last year.

"Thanks to those experiences I was not so shocked (to be dropped) and could prepare for the challenge," said Park. "I've gone through many things."

Park joined the Yankees this year, posting a 2-1 record with a 5.60 ERA in 29 games for the 2009 World Series champions but has failed to convince manager Joe Girardi.

The Korean right-hander has recorded a total of 122 wins throughout his MLB career and needs one more to tie Japan's Hideo Nomo for 123 wins -- the most for an Asian pitcher.

Another option for Park would a return to South Korea but he has never played in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) as he moved to the United States straight out of college in 1994.

(Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo. Editing by Patrick Johnston)