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Japanese team in Cactus League? It could happen

The Cactus League is expanding by three teams this spring and one more in 2010, but it could end up being even larger under a plan to add a Japanese team to the mix as part of a proposal to bring a year-round training facility to Tucson Electric Park.

Massachusetts-based Baseline Group, which works on Japanese and Korean player evaluation and development, is pitching Pima County on the prospect of establishing year-round operations at the Tucson Electric Park complex, currently housing spring training and extended-spring operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Baseline is headed by former major leaguer Mike Pagliarulo.

As part of that proposal, a Japanese professional team would train in Arizona and participate in the Cactus League, paying 13 to 15 games and supplying players for extended spring training. Baseline would lease part of the TEP complex for 15 years (with an option to buy the entire complex for $16 million). Pima County, which owns the spring-training complex, would pick up the operating costs of the ballpark for 2010 and 2011.

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