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Yomiuri Giants lefty Kimiyasu Kudo, who turned 40 in May, will be given a 20 million yen pay cut, the Central League club said Monday.

News photoKimiyasu Kudo of the Yomiuri Giants re-signed for 280 million yen for the 2004 season, marking a 20 million yen cut from his salary for 2003.

Kudo, who will return for a 23rd season in 2004 — the longest in Japanese pro baseball — re-signed for an annual salary of 280 million yen but was nonetheless content after a season plagued by injuries this year.

“I don’t want my injuries to become an excuse (for poor performances),” said Kudo, who missed almost two months after the season opener due to an injured thumb and finished out the season with a 7-6 record with a 4.27 ERA in 18 game appearances.

“The result is what it is and I have to accept that. At least, I will be able to continue playing baseball next year,” Kudo said.

Kudo, who is gearing up for fall training camp, needs nine wins to mark his 200th career victory and will mark his 500th career mound appearance after pitching in three more games.

“It’s not like I will remember how it was when I first became a pro, but I still want to start fresh and focus only on playing baseball.”

In other news, Yokohama BayStars pre-draft pick Teruaki Yoshikawa received a signing bonus of 100 million yen plus performance-related incentives of up to 50 million yen.

The 22-year-old right-hander from Nippon Bunri University, who will receive an annual salary of 15 million yen, said he will aim to make the top team before the 2004 season begins.

“There’s a difference between the uniform of the top team and the farm team. I didn’t join the club to wear the farm-team uniform,” Yoshikawa said.

Akahoshi re-signs

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Hanshin Tigers outfielder Norihiro Akahoshi re-signed with the team on Monday for an annual salary of 100 million yen, the Central League club said.

Akahoshi, who used his speed on the base paths to steal a career-high 61 bases this past season, received a pay increase of 63 million yen.

He also won the stolen-base title for the third year in a row and got 5 million yen for his efforts.

“In pro baseball becoming a 100 million yen player is one of the milestones,” said Akahoshi, who in his third year with the Tigers was the fastest to reach the mark.

Still the 27-year-old, who played in 140 games and batted .312 with no errors to help guide Hanshin to its first league championship in 18 years, appeared less than satisfied with his new contract.

“Am I satisfied? It’s hard to say,” he said.

Marines contact KBO

CHIBA (Kyodo) The Lotte Marines have made an inquiry via the Japan pro baseball commissioner’s office to the Korean Baseball Organization about South Korean free-agent slugger Lee Seung Yeop, officials of the Pacific League club said Monday.

Though Lee, who hit 56 home runs with the Samsung Lions this year to rewrite the Asian single-season mark, has said he is only interested in playing for a major league team, he may now negotiate with any Japanese pro baseball team.

Lotte manager Bobby Valentine has shown a keen interest in acquiring Lee and the club will now finalize arrangements to begin talks with the 27-year-old infielder.

Lee visited the United States last month and held talks with several major league teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he was reportedly not satisfied with any of the offers.

He is currently in Japan to take part in a television production and will return to South Korea on Wednesday.

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