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New York Yankees Snap Up Chinese Baseball Prodigies
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The Yankees have made history by becoming the first Major League Baseball (MLB) team to sign players from the Chinese Baseball Association.

The New York-based franchise announced Monday that they had made a double swoop for left-handed pitcher Liu Kai and catcher Zhang Zhenwang.

"We believe that this is simply the start of a long-term commitment to helping the development of baseball in China," said Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman.

Liu Kai, 19, from Guangdong Province, is already a national team member while Zhang Zhenwang, aged 19 from Tianjin, helped the Tianjin Lions to take the national championships three times in five years. He also joined the Chinese team at the 2006 World Baseball Classic in Japan.

In January, the Yankees visited Beijing and set up a working relationship with the Chinese Baseball Association in an attempt to make the profile of the sport rise in China.

The Yankees will allow Chinese teams and officials to enjoy their training facilities in New York and at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., whilst setting up an exchange program for coaches and trainers.

Both players will be formally introduced to the press and fans at a press conference at Yankee Stadium on July 6. They will then report to the Yankees' developmental complex in Tampa.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2007)

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