S. Korean slugger Lee to return to Yomiuri next year

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TOKYO, Oct. 23 (20:49) Kyodo

South Korean slugger Lee Seung Yeop will remain with the Yomiuri
Giants next year for his fourth season in Japanese baseball, the
Central League club said Monday.

Lee's agent has notified Yomiuri of the decision to the delight
of manager Tatsunori Hara, who hopes the 30-year-old will continue
providing power at the heart of his lineup before making a widely
anticipated move toward playing in the major leagues.

''I've decided to stay (with the Giants) and hopefully I'll help
the team win the championship and lift Mr. Hara into the air in
celebration,'' Lee said in a comment issued through the Tokyo club.

Sources close to Lee's latest deal with Yomiuri said the first
baseman will likely earn an annual salary of around 300 million yen
in 2007 with a raise from an estimated 160 million yen for this year.

Lee occupied the cleanup spot in his first season since moving
from the Lotte Marines and had team-highs of 41 homers, 108 RBIs, 169
hits and a .323 average for the Giants, who finished fourth in the
six-team league despite making a strong start to the season.

Lee played for Lotte for two seasons after turning down an offer
from the Los Angeles Dodgers due to the difference over financial
terms after the 2003 season, when he hit 56 homers for the Samsung
Lions in South Korea.

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