Orioles sign Chen Wei-yin
Taiwanese left-hander Chen Wei-yin, who has played professionally in Japan for several years, signed a three-year deal to join the Baltimore Orioles, US media reported. The contract is said to be worth slightly less than US$12 million, but other details were not divulged. The 26-year-old Chen, who made his debut in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Chunichi Dragons in 2005, did not become a fixture on the team’s staff until 2008. He has a career mark of 36-30 with a 2.59 ERA in 650-2/3 innings for the Dragons, striking out 520 batters while walking 159. Last year, despite being hampered by a leg injury, Chen was 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 164-2/3 innings, with 94 strikeouts and 31 walks. If Chen makes the Orioles roster, he would become the first Taiwanese player to have played in Japan’s top professional baseball league and then played for a US major league team. Though the Orioles hope Chen will fit into their starting rotation, the Taiwanese lefty will face stiff competition, with eight pitchers potentially vying for five starting spots.
Guangzhou deny Drogba plan
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba will not be joining China’s Guangzhou Evergrande after the defending national champions ended speculation over a bold transfer swoop. “We have [had] no contact with Drogba whatsoever, nor ... authorized anyone to contact him,” the club said on its Web site. “The recent Drogba reports are pure speculation, he is not in our plans.” Drogba could now be closer to joining Chinese rivals Shanghai Shenhua after they signed his Chelsea striking partner Nicola Anelka last month. Former French international Jean Tigana is set to take over as Shanghai coach and the club have declared their interest in bringing Ivory Coast international Drogba in too. Promoted Dalian Aerbin have also been linked with Drogba, 33, who is entering the last six months of his contract with Chelsea. Guangzhou were believed to be lining up an astonishing US$625,000 a week deal for Drogba, according to yesterday’s China Daily, before the club’s denial.
Cantona eyes presidency
Former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona is trying to gather enough support to enable him to run in this year’s French presidential election, according to a newspaper report on Monday. Cantona, who once called on people to empty their bank accounts in protest at the global financial crisis, has reportedly written to the mayors of France seeking their backing. The 45-year-old Cantona, who is considered one of United’s greatest ever players, needs the signatures of 500 elected officials before the end of next month to run.
Larkin makes Hall of Fame
Barry Larkin, a 12-time All-Star shortstop who won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in results announced on Monday. The three-time Gold Glove Award winner was the lone player inducted in his third year of eligibility and he got 86.4 percent of the votes cast by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, eclipsing the 75 percent needed for entry. Larkin, taken fourth overall in the 1985 draft, hit .295 during a 19-year MLB career spent with the Reds before retiring after the 2004 season at age 40. He received 495 votes from the 573 ballots that were cast, the Hall of Fame said in a statement.