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Home sweet home for former MLB pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo

The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL, 中華職棒) last week announced that Hong-Chih Kuo (郭泓志), a former Los Angeles Dodgers reliever, has signed a contract to join the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions (統一獅).

The Tainan-based Lions have yet to reveal Kuo's salary, but local reports have come out claiming that the 32-year-old signed a three-year contract worth NT$30 million, making him one of the highest paid players in the CPBL's 24-year history.

Kuo is scheduled to return later this week and will be presented at a news conference on Oct. 4.

According to league rules, Kuo will not be able to take part in the remaining games of this season, but he could make his debut in the CPBL's winter league, which is scheduled to kick off this November.

The announcement is great news for Kuo, the Lions, the CPBL as well as all Taiwanese baseball fans.

The Lions, one of the founding teams of the CPBL, are hoping that the addition will help them at the box office, which has been sluggish despite the fact that the Lions are one of the most competitive teams in the league.

The CPBL set a new attendance record this year, mostly due to the inclusion of ex-MLB All-Star Manny Ramirez in the first half of the season. But the Lions have not benefited as much as the league's other three teams, namely the Brother Elephants, Lamigo Monkeys and EDA Rhinos.

The Tainan-native southpaw was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers in 1999, and has spent the past decade pitching in the United States. Finally, local fans will be able to witness Kuo's performance up close in Taiwan's diamonds in the near future.

Some might say that Kuo decided to come home because he is at the end of his professional career and was unable to land a major league contract.

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