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Urbina back to baseball after jail release

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Former major league pitcher Ugueth Urbina returned to baseball Friday after serving 7 1/2 years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his family's ranch.

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Before taking the field in his native Venezuela to play for the Lions of Caracas, Urbina described himself as ``more mature'' and said he was ``very excited to play baseball again.''

``I'm excited to be here,'' Urbina told reporters at the University Stadium in Caracas, where the Lions played the Zulia Eagles.

The 38-year-old pitcher was released from prison Sunday after serving roughly half of his 14-year sentence for attempted murder during a dispute over a gun on Oct. 16, 2005.

Urbina was found guilty of attacking and injuring workers with a machete. Several other men participated in the attack at his family's ranch, located about 25 miles from Caracas.

Urbina, who pitched for the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, has repeatedly denied involvement with the incident that landed him in prison, saying he was sleeping at the time of the attack.

A two-time All-Star, Urbina saved 237 big league games from 1995-2005. He had two saves in the 2003 World Series to help the Marlins beat the New York Yankees, and last pitched in the majors with the Phillies in 2005.

Urbina told reporters he hopes to play professional baseball in the United States again.

``The first order of business is pitching in Venezuela,'' he said.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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