Yomiuri Giants first baseman Domingo Martinez last week celebrated his one-year anniversary with the team, and plucking him out of the Mexican League last June and bringing him back to Japan was one of the best things the Giants have ever done.

"Maru-chan" had been inexplicably let go by the Seibu Lions after putting up great numbers as the Lions' DH in 1997 and 1998. He averaged 30 1/2 homers and 101 1/2 RBIs during those years, hitting .294 and helping Seibu into the Japan Series both seasons.

When the Giants needed to add some punch to their lineup last spring, someone in the Yomiuri organization thought of Martinez and found him toiling south of the U.S. border. They signed him, despite the fact the team was covered at first base (Maru-chan's position) by star and fan fave Kazuhiro Kiyohara.