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Orix releases Park Chan-ho

Former MLB All-Star may end career in Korea

Korean baseball pitcher Park Chan-ho has been released by his Japanese cub the Orix Buffaloes.

The Nippon Professional Baseball club announced that Park, 38, will not be retained for next season.

The right-hander joined the Buffaloes before the 2011 season on a one-year deal.

The former Major League Baseball All-Star pitched only seven games for the Japanese club, and none after June, going 1-5 with an ERA of 4.29.

He dealt with assorted injuries all season.

Park is the first Korean to play in the majors. In 17 years with seven different MLB clubs, Park won 124 games, the most ever by an Asian pitcher in the majors, and put up a 4.36 ERA.
Park Chan-ho’s best seasons in the major leagues came with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (File photo)
Park Chan-ho’s best seasons in the major leagues came with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (File photo)

His best seasons came with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his first club. From 1997 to 2001, Park averaged 15 wins a season, including a career-best 18 wins in 2000.

After his lone All-Star selection in 2001, Park signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the Texas Rangers, worth $65 million over five seasons. But he was hampered by injuries during his two and a half years in Texas, and his days as a frontline starting pitcher were effectively over by 2005.

Park became a free agent after the 2010 season but didn’t generate much interest.

He said he joined the Orix club since it offered him a chance to start. He had spent the majority of his final four years in the majors as a relief pitcher.

He was teammates with Korean slugger Lee Seung-yeop on the Buffaloes, but Lee announced last week he would return to the Korea Baseball Organization for next year, after a disappointing season of his own.

Lee had previously played for the KBO’s Samsung Lions before bolting for Japan before the 2004 season, and is expected to re-join the Lions.

Park has never played professionally in Korea, and in order to join the KBO, he will have to enter the draft in August next year.

Park has said in media interviews that he would like to close out his career in Korea. (Yonhap News)