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SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, who signed with the Chicago Cubs last winter, has joined the big league club's Double-A affiliate in Tennessee, the minor league team announced Thursday.
The Tennessee Smokies said they have added the 37-year-old right-hander to their pitching staff. The Smokies are based in the Southern League, one of three Double-A circuits in the U.S. minor leagues. Lim has left the Cubs' Advanced Class A Team, the Daytona Cubs, and has taken another step toward Major League Baseball (MLB).
Lim has gone from the Rookie League, the lowest level in the minor league ball, to Double-A, the second-highest level and one notch below Triple-A, in just a month. Rehabbing from a major elbow surgery from last year, Lim made his first Rookie League appearance on June 24 and went to the Daytona Cubs on July 13, 2013.
With the Daytona Cubs, Lim made four appearances, giving up one earned run in five innings. On the Smokies, the veteran joins a fellow South Korean pitcher Rhee Dae-eun, who joins the Cubs out of a South Korean high school in 2007 and has since been pitching in the minor leagues.
Lim has been recovering from his second elbow reconstructive operation, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, since last July. He had earlier hoped to return to action by mid-July.
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.
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. According to Lim's agent, Park Yoo-hyun, Lim has been hitting about 148 kilometers per hour with his fastball since returning to action in the Rookie League.
Lim could be in the big leagues by Sept. 1, when MLB clubs' rosters expand from 25 players to 40.
The Cubs remain well out of playoff contention, at 45-54 in NL Central, 16.5 games out of first place in the division. They haven't won the World Series since 1908.
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