Chinese teenagers sign Yankees, MLB

Updated: 2007-06-19 08:23

WASHINGTON - The Yankees have become the first Major League Baseball (MLB) team to sign players from the Chinese Baseball Association.

According to the announcement delivered Monday by the Yankees, the two Chinese teenagers are left-handed pitcher Liu Kai and catcher Zhang Zhenwang.

"We believe that this is the start of something we can develop further as we work toward our commitment to help grow the game of baseball in China," said Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman.

Liu Kai, 19, from Guangdong Province, was chosen to participate as a national member while Zhang Zhenwang, aged 19 from Tianjin, helped lead Tianjin Lions to the CBL championship series in three of the past five seasons and was selected to represent his country to participate in the 2006 World Baseball Classic in Japan.

The Yankees visited Beijing in January, announcing a working relationship with the Chinese Baseball Association that will attempt to grow the game overseas.

At the time, it was suggested that the effort might someday yield baseball's answer to basketball superstar Yao Ming. The Yankees agreed to allow Chinese teams and officials to use their training facilities in New York and at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., while swapping coaches and trainers to help the CBA's burgeoning program.

Both players will be introduced at a formal press conference at Yankee Stadium on July 6. Following their introduction, the players will report to the Yankees' player development complex in Tampa.

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