(Reuters) - South Korean closer Lim Chang-yong is set to sign a deal with Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, though the sidearm pitcher is unlikely to be able to take the mound again until late next season.
The 36-year-old righthander, who had elbow surgery earlier this year, told reporters at Incheon Airport on Thursday he had long dreamed of signing for a major league team.
Lim tallied 296 saves in his 18-year career in Korea and Japan and could wind up pitching against compatriot Choo Shin-soo, who was acquired by the Cubs’ NL Central rivals Cincinnati on Tuesday.
“I want to play the kind of baseball that I‘m known for, and give the fans enjoyment,” said Lim, adding that the deal was worth up to $5 million over two years.
Lim, who spent the last five season in Japan with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and is known for his scorching fastball, said the Cubs would give him enough time to recover from the surgery before putting him into the bullpen.
“After enough rehab I want to get back on the mound in the middle or towards the end of next season,” said Lim, adding that the Cubs were placing more importance on 2014 for the former Japanese baseball All Star.
Lim made his professional debut with South Korea’s Haitai Tigers in 1995 and also played with the Samsung Lions in Korea.
He earned a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics and was part of the South Korean team that finished second at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
“I‘m happy that my dream has finally came true,” said Lim.
“I‘m not young any more and I wanted to do something that I’ve never experienced before.”
Writing by Peter Rutherford in Singapore; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty