Updated September. 19, 2011 08:16
Baseball slugger Kim Tae-kyun, who has ended 20 months in Japan`s Nippon Professional Baseball League, says he wants to return to his old team, the Daejeon Hanwha Eagles.
He said this Saturday in an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo in Daejeon. The team welcomed his return, saying it will offer him the best conditions with an annual salary of more than 1 billion won (902,120 U.S. dollars).
Looking bright in the interview, Kim said he regained peace of mind after undergoing troublesome times since he decided to leave the Lotte Chiba Marines of Japan.
Ive decided to resume my baseball career with Hanwha, he said. As I still belong to Lotte, I`ve made no contact with a Korean baseball team. However, I think I ought to go back to my former home team. I want to put on the Hanwha uniform regardless of the terms of my contract.
Hanwha President Chung Seung-jin said that because team owner Kim Seung-youn promised to bring him back at any cost, the Eagles will begin to prepare for his return as soon as this season is over.
Hanwha manager Roh Jae-deok said the team will give Kim Tae-kyun "the best treatment" offered to a Korean player returning from an overseas league, pledging an annual salary of more than 1 billion won or more in addition to a signing bonus.
If Hanwha follows through on its offer, Kim will become Koreas first pro baseballer to earn 1 billion won per season. Among Korean players who returned to Korea after playing overseas, pitcher Koo Dae-sung earned 550,000 dollars with the New York Mets before returning to Hanwha in 2006.
The richest free agent contract in Korea belonged to the now-retired Shim Jung-soo, who earned 750 million won (676,590 dollars) in 2005.
Kim Tae-kyun is staying with the Lotte Marines until the end of this season, so he cannot contact Korean clubs until next month. He can negotiate with any team because he is a free agent. It is only a matter of time before he returns to Hanwha, however, because of his expressed desire to return to the team and the Eagles` pledge to pay him a record salary.
The slugger is staying at his fathers home in Daejeon, working out occasionally and playing catch at a nearby elementary school. He is also beginning to like boxing, which he started to lose weight, and is now indulging in the sport, he said.
I go to the gym three times a week. I get exhausted after jumping rope for five rounds of three minutes each followed by a 30-second break. Jumping rope is harder than punching a sandbag. Its tough but its good for baseball because it makes me more flexible, said Lee.
Kim Tae-kyun also expressed regret over his less honorable return from Japan, saying, Though I didn`t end my career in Japan honorably, I wish to continue to play ball for my former team.