• Kyodo


South Korean superstar Lee Seung Yeop was introduced at a press conference on Tuesday after joining the Lotte Marines on a two-year, 500 million yen deal.

News photoLee Seung Yeop, who hit 56 home runs last season in South Korea to establish a new Asian record, smiles as he is introduced to the media in Chiba after signing a two-year contract with the Marines.

“I won’t forget what I’ve achieved in South Korea and I plan to give it my all with the spirit of a rookie,” said Lee at a Chiba hotel attended by some 100 reporters, including a large contingent from South Korea.

“The reason I chose the Marines is because they were the first team to approach me and I wanted to play under American manager Bobby Valentine,” Lee said.

The 27-year-old slugger, who declared free agency from the Samsung Lions this past season, hit 56 home runs to set a new Asian single-season mark in 2003 and was selected as the Most Valuable Player for the fifth time.

Lee said he is impressed with the control of Japanese pitchers but will aim high — a .290 average with at least 30 homers next season.

Lee, who will wear jersey No. 36, went to view Chiba Marine Stadium earlier in the day along with his wife and later formally concluded the signing of his contract, which includes a signing bonus of 100 million yen and an annual salary of 200 million yen.

Probe requested

The Yomiuri Giants are in hot water after the Japan Pro Baseball Players’ association on Tuesday called for a probe into the recent negotiations of right-handers Koji Uehara and Yusaku Iriki, saying the Central League club failed to recognize the roles of their agents during contract talks.

The association, headed by Yakult Swallows veteran catcher Atsuya Furuta, sent a letter to the Japan pro baseball commissioner’s office, demanding a retraction from the Tokyo-based team and requesting an inquiry be the topic of discussion at a committee meeting to be held next Monday.

Specifically, the association would like to confirm that Yomiuri allows its players to use agents during talks and moreover does not discriminate against those wishing to do so.

The probe will also examine whether any of the other 11 professional baseball clubs treat players who wish to use agents in negotiations unfairly.

Finally, the association will ask the Japan pro baseball organization to report to it the findings of a thorough investigation into the negotiations of Uehara and Iriki.

The association has not ruled out taking legal action against Yomiuri depending on the team’s response.

In the case of Uehara, after meeting with the 28-year-old and his agent Kimihito Kato on five occasions and concluding a one-year, 300 million yen deal, Yomiuri allegedly claimed that Kato was simply an adviser — never an agent in the process.

As for Iriki, the association argues the team got rid of the 31-year-old by trading him to the Nippon Ham Fighters, rather than go through the hassle of dealing with his agent.

New deal for Kiyohara

Fifteen-time All-Star Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who will be entering the third year of a four-year contract, signed a deal with the Central League club on Tuesday carrying an annual salary of 450 million yen plus incentives for next season.

Sheets re-signs

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Hiroshima Carp utility infielder Andy Sheets agreed to a new one-year contract carrying an annual salary of $1.3 million (about 142 million yen) in addition to incentives for next season, officials of the Central League club said Tuesday.

Noguchi to stay

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Chunichi Dragons southpaw Shigeki Noguchi on Tuesday re-signed with the Central League club for 126 million yen and will receive the same amount of salary next season, baseball officials said.

In other Japan baseball news:

Seibu Lions ace right-handed closer Kiyoshi Toyoda received a 70 million yen pay raise and will earn 230 million yen next season.

The 32-year-old Toyoda, who had 38 saves to claim the Most Valuable Reliever title for the second consecutive year, becomes the Lions’ highest paid pitcher.

Yakult Swallows slugger Alex Ramirez re-signed with the team for next season for a salary of 200 million yen plus performance-related incentives — an increase of 55 million yen.

Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Tomochika Tsuboi re-signed for 110 million yen for next — double the amount he made this year.

Right-hander Kenjiro Kawasaki, who has not made a single top-team appearance for the past three years due to a pain in the shoulder of his throwing arm, accepted a 50 million yen pay cut in re-signing with the Chunichi Dragons.

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