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KBO team presidents to discuss letting Park Chan-ho play next season

All Headlines 10:48 December 12, 2011

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- Presidents of the country's top baseball clubs will meet this week to discuss a rule change to allow ex-major leaguer Park Chan-ho to pitch in their league next season, the league office said Monday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said presidents of its eight clubs are scheduled to meet Tuesday to review the status of Park, a veteran right-hander released by the Orix Buffaloes in Japan in October.

Park, who pitched 17 years in Major League Baseball and one year with the Buffaloes, has said he would like to finish his playing career in South Korea. But under the current rule, he would have to sit out the entire 2012 season before being eligible.

The KBO states that a player who left for an overseas league prior to 1999 must enter a rookie KBO 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.

Under the rule, Park must enter the draft in August next year and, if selected, would be eligible starting in 2013.

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

In early November, general managers of the eight KBO clubs met for preliminary discussions on the issue. Noh Jae-deok, Hanwha's general manager, had said his fellow general managers were positive about a possible rule change. Some officials have reportedly demanded that the Eagles must give up their first round draft pick next year in exchange for playing Park in 2012.

Chung Seung-jin, the Eagles' president, said allowing Park to play in Korea as he wishes "is the right thing to do."
"We've let other clubs know what we feel in no uncertain terms," Chung said. "I expect a positive result from a broad point of view."

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 earned run average (ERA).

But his first and only season in Japan was a big disappointment. He pitched in only seven games, but none after June, and went 1-5 with a 4.29 ERA while battling a number of injuries.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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