Cuba's Despaigne to join Japan's pro baseball league

Havana, July 16 (IANS) Cuban outfielder Alfredo Despaigne will be joining Japan's professional baseball association Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Cuban Baseball Federation (BPF) said Tuesday.

Despaigne was hired by Japan's Chiba Lotte Marines team, four-time winner of the Japan Series, to play the rest of the season, with an option to extend his contract to next year depending on his performance, said the BPF Tuesday, reports Xinhua.

"I will do my best, primarily with my batting, so Chiba can be among the best teams of that strong league. I hope that my participation will satisfy the Japanese fans," said Despaigne, adding he greatly respected Asian baseball in general, and Japan's in particular, as two-time winner of the World Baseball Classic.

Despaigne, 28, is considered one of the greatest sluggers in Cuban baseball and has professional experience from playing parts of two seasons for the Mexican league's Campeche Pirates.

This year his participation in the Mexican league was complicated by irregularities in his travel documents, though the BPF denied that either Despaigne or the federation were involved with a fake Dominican passport issued in his name.

In 10 seasons of his career, Despaigne has hit 220 home runs and was named Most Valuable Player of the preliminary round in Group A at the 2013 World Baseball Classic.