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Freddy Garcia signs with EDA Rhino, arriving next week

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A local professional baseball team yesterday announced that it has sealed a deal with former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star pitcher Freddy Garcia.

The high profile ex-big league hurler with 150-plus wins is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on April 25 to join the Kaohsiung-based EDA Rhinos (義大犀牛), the team said yesterday.

Rhinos General Manager Hsieh Pin-yu (謝秉育) told local media yesterday that the 37-year-old veteran major leaguer is expected to become the most high profile foreign-import pitcher in local Chinese Professional Baseball League's (中華職棒, CPBL) 25-year history.

“We hope that the ex-MLB player's coming aboard will help to raise our games and boost ticket sales,” Hsieh said.

Garcia, a Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher who is currently a free agent, is best known for his stints with the Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees during his 15-year-career in the MLB.

A two-time All-Star in 2001-2002, the righty left a 156-108 record in the U.S. league with an average 4.15 ERA and 1,621 strikeouts.

The team did not disclose the terms of the deal with the player, but Garcia is expected to receive a contract very similar to former major league most valuable player Manny Ramirez last year, which was a NT$1.5 million or (US$50,000) monthly salary.

The team is hoping that the singing of the MLB-level pitcher can duplicate the successful model a year ago when it reached a deal with Ramirez.

On his brief but productive baseball journey in the island nation, Ramirez, who played for the Rhinos from March to May 2013, was a huge draw to fans of Taiwan.

In 49 games with the EDA Rhinos, Ramirez left with a batting average of .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs. Thanks to the addition of the former MLB slugger, the Rhinos averaged 9,134 fans at its home games last season, more than four times the 2,184 fans the team averaged in 2012 when it was known as the Sinon Bulls.

In the ongoing CPBL season, the Rhinos placed No. 3 in the four-team league with a 7-12 record.

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