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Pitcher Lim Chang-yong to join Chicago Cubs' Class A affiliate: agent

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, who signed with the Chicago Cubs last year, will soon join the big league club's Class A minor league affiliate, his agent said Friday.

According to his agent Park Yoo-hyun, Lim, who had been pitching for the Cubs' Rookie League team since last month while recovering from an elbow operation, will move to Daytona Beach, Florida, on Saturday to join the Daytona Cubs.

"He is set to take the mound as a member of the Daytona Cubs," Park said. "He will try to work himself into shape and get ready for the big league."

Since last July, Lim has been recovering from his second elbow reconstructive operation, commonly known as Tommy John surgery. He had earlier hoped to return to action by mid-July, but the 37-year-old right-hander made his first appearance on June 24 for the Cubs' Rookie league team in Arizona. He pitched five innings in five games.

Lim allowed two runs in one inning in his first outing but then threw four consecutive scoreless innings in his next four appearances for an ERA of 3.60.

The Daytona Cubs are one of 12 clubs in the Florida State League, one of three leagues in Advanced Class A minor league baseball. Advanced Class A is one notch below Double A and two below Triple A, the highest level in U.S. minor ball.

After pitching the previous five seasons for the Yakult Swallows in the Central League of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Lim signed with the Cubs in December. Since then, Lim has repeatedly said his goal was to make the major league roster by mid-summer.

Park, the agent, said Lim had been scheduled to join the Iowa Cubs in Triple A, but the Iowa team will enter a week-long break for the All-Star Futures Game, a mid-season affair for the minor league teams.

According to Park, Lim will pitch every third for the Daytona Cubs.

"He has been consistently hitting 147 to 148 kilometers per hour (91 to 92 miles per hour) on the radar gun," said Park, who has watched his client pitch in the Rookie league. "He has been feeling some pain in his pitching elbow, but he's bound to deal with some pain during rehab."

Lim has said he wanted to join the majors by mid-August but Park said depending on the Chicago Cubs' needs, Lim could join the majors even earlier than that.

Before joining the NPB, Lim spent 13 seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) with two different teams.

If Lim reaches the majors this year, he will be the third South Korean player in the big leagues in 2013, joining outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Cincinnati Reds and pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. All three players will be in the National League (NL) and in the case of Lim and Choo, in the same NL Central division.

The Cubs were reportedly interested in Lim for his unique, sidearm delivery and his ability to reach well over 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) with his fastball.

The Cubs haven't won a World Series title since 1908 and probably won't end their drought this year. Through Friday, Korean time, they were at 41-49, fourth among five NL Central teams.

Before this season, the Cubs signed Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year, US$9.5 million contract. The right-hander used to compete with Lim for saves in the NPB's Central League for the Hanshin Tigers.

Fujikawa, though, is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. He made 12 appearances for the Cubs, going 1-1 with two saves and a 5.25 ERA in 12 innings.

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