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Fukudome returns to Japan after 5 MLB years

OSAKA, Japan (AP) - Former major league outfielder Kosuke Fukudome has returned to Japan where he will play for the Hanshin Tigers of the Central League.

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The 35-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Tigers after spending five seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.

``I'm sure Japanese baseball has changed a lot in the six years I've been away,'' Fukudome said on Hanshin's website. ``I hope the players around me will help me get re-adjusted.''

Fukudome made the National League All-Star team in his rookie season with Chicago but never quite lived up to the expectations in his 3-1/2 seasons with the Cubs.

Fukudome gave up plans to return the majors after being released by the New York Yankees' Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the end of the 2012 season.

Before signing with the Cubs in 2008, Fukudome was a key player for the Chunichi Dragons and was named the Central League Most Valuable Player in 2006.

The Tigers have also signed former Minnesota Twins infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who struggled in two seasons with the American League team.

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