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Fukudome returning to play in Japan

Outfielder had stints with Cubs, Indians and White Sox during big league career

Fukudome returning to play in Japan
After five seasons in the Majors, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome is reportedly returning home to play for the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league.

Fukudome's deal is for three years, according to Japanese news outlet Sponichi.

Fukudome, who turns 36 in April, came over to play in the Majors to fanfare prior to the 2008 season on a four-year, $48 million deal with the Cubs. He reached double-digit homers in each of the first three years of that deal and was an All-Star in 2008. He posted a career .258/.359/.395 line in 596 games between the Cubs, Indians and White Sox.

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The Cubs dealt Fukudome to the Indians a few days prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2011, in exchange for outfielder Abner Abreu and right-hander Carlton Smith.

Last season, Fukudome was on a one-year, $1 million contract with the White Sox, who released him in late June. The Yankees picked him up before also releasing him.

Fukudome played nine seasons from 1999-2007 with the Chunichi Dragons, hitting .305 with 192 home runs and 647 RBIs in 1,074 games. He was the Central League's Most Valuable Player in 2006, when he hit .351 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs.

Fukudome went 3-for-3 with a home run in his Major League debut on March 31, 2008, against the Brewers.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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