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The Yomiuri Giants have landed Venezuelan slugger Roberto Petagine with a two-year deal carrying an annual salary of $6 million, officials of the Central League club said Tuesday.

News photoRoberto Petagine

The agreement was reached in a meeting between Yomiuri deputy general manager Koichi Takayama and Petagine’s agent in New York on Monday, during which the 31-year-old first baseman joined the negotiations over the telephone from his native Venezuela.

The deal also includes a signing bonus and incentives, details of which were not immediately known.

Yomiuri expects Petagine to fill the void left by Hideki Matsui, the three-time CL Most Valuable Player who became a free agent in the off-season and is set to begin negotiations with MLB clubs.

“I’m extremely happy to be given this opportunity to play in a Giants uniform. I’ll do my best to help the team retain the (league and Japan Series) titles,” Petagine said through a club spokesman.

The Chunichi Dragons, Hanshin Tigers and Yokohama BayStars had also been in the hunt for Petagine after his talks with the Yakult Swallows over a new deal ended in failure last week.

Petagine joined Yakult in 1999 following stints with the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds.

He led the CL in home runs in 1999 and 2001 while winning the RBI title in 2001, when he also received the MVP honor after helping Yakult to the league championship and Japan Series titles.

He has a .321 batting average with 160 homers and 429 RBIs in his four-year career in Japanese baseball.

Cabrera stays put

Seibu Lions slugger Alex Cabrera, who recently revealed his wish to return to the major leagues after agreeing to a contract extension, confirmed Monday that he will play for the Pacific League club next season.

Cabrera ruled out the possibility of signing with a major league club in the offseason in a meeting with Seibu officials, who had been annoyed with the home run king’s remarks posted by the official MLB Web site last week.

An MLB article quoted the former Arizona Diamondbacks infielder as saying, “I want to go back to the States . . . I told all my friends, give me a good park, a comfortable situation and I’ll hit 40 home runs over there.”

This year, the 30-year-old Cabrera tied the 55 home-run mark set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964 and matched by Tuffy Rhodes in 2001.

“What I was asked by the American media was about the 2004 season or later,” Cabrera said Monday.

Coaches impressed

The Yakult Swallows will go ahead with their plan to name Mac Suzuki in Wednesday’s baseball draft after the former Kansas City Royals right-hander impressed their coaching staff in a pitching trial Monday.

Manager Tsutomu Wakamatsu and pitching coach Akimitsu Ito gave Suzuki the thumbs-up after watching him throw about 30 pitches in a bullpen at the CL club’s training facilities in Tokyo.

Tigers eye Nori

OSAKA (Kyodo) The Hanshin Tigers are set to begin negotiations with free-agent slugger Norihiro Nakamura, officials of the Central League club said Monday.

Club president Katsuyoshi Nozaki and manager Senichi Hoshino will meet Nakamura on Thursday.

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