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KBO club chiefs give green light Park Chan-ho

Park Chan-ho enjoyed his best seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (File photo)
Park Chan-ho enjoyed his best seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (File photo)
KBO club chiefs give green light  to Park Chan-ho

Former Major League Baseball All-Star Park Chan-ho will be able to play in his home country next year.

Presidents of the eight current clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization and one expansion team set to join the league in 2013 on Tuesday instituted a rule change to allow Park to join the league next season, the league office said.

The veteran right-hander was released by the Orix Buffaloes in Japan in October.

Under the previous rule, Park would have had to enter the KBO draft in August next year and, if picked, wait until 2013 to be eligible.

According to the rule, a player who left for an overseas league before 1999 must enter a rookie draft to join the local league for the first time. Park, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994 and has never before played in the KBO, is currently the only active player to whom this rule applies.

Park pitched 17 years in the majors and one year with the Buffaloes. He has repeatedly said he’d like to end his career on his native soil.

The Hanwha Eagles, based in Daejeon, some 160 kilometers south of Seoul, reserve the prior rights to Park based on his hometown.

Park is from Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, just north of Daejeon.

The Eagles had pushed for the rule change so that they could sign Park and put him in the rotation immediately without wasting their draft pick and waiting a full season for the 38-year-old pitcher.

Following the meeting of KBO teams’ general managers early last month, some officials reportedly demanded that the Eagles must concede their first-round draft pick next year in exchange for putting Park in their lineup in 2012.

But after Tuesday’s decision, the Eagles don’t have to give up any draft picks and simply have to ink Park to a deal.

Park is the first South Korean to play in the majors.

In 17 years with seven different clubs, the former All-Star won 124 games, the most ever by an Asian pitcher in the majors, and put up a 4.36 ERA. (Yonhap News)

Chong ends MLB pursuit

South Korean pitcher Chong Tae-hyon said Tuesday he has decided to end his contract talks with a Major League Baseball team in the U.S. and would like to join a Korean team.

Chong said in an e-mail statement that he is no longer in negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles.

“I informed Baltimore of my decision this morning,” Chong wrote. “I will now seek to join a Korean team.”

An 11-year veteran with the SK Wyverns in the Korea Baseball Organization, Chong declared for free agency last month and left for the U.S. on Nov. 18 to seek opportunities in the majors.

The Orioles reportedly offered the right-hander a two-year contract worth $3.2 million last month. 

(Yonhap News)