Padres, Cubs, White Sox interested in Fukudome
NAGOYA, Japan -- Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome told the Chunichi Dragons he will not return next season, saying he wants to make a move to the major leagues.
Fukudome, who became a free agent last month, informed the Central League club of his decision Tuesday.
"I won't be playing for a Japanese club next season, I'll play in the majors," Fukudome said. "I appreciate the fans who supported me for nine years. I hope that the fans continue to root for me when they see me playing in the United States."
Fukudome is regarded as one of the best outfielders in Japanese professional baseball. The 30-year-old was a key member of the Japan team that won the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March 2006.
He had surgery on his right elbow in August and sat out the Japan Series, but has 192 homers and a .305 batting average over nine seasons with the Dragons, who won their first championship in 53 years on Nov. 2.
Fukudome has drawn interest from the Chicago Cubs, the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox.
The Padres have made an offer to Fukudome, calling it "one of the two or three biggest offers" in team history.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press