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SIOUX CITY, IA - The Sioux City Explorers announced today the signing of veteran starter, Richard Salazar, who will return for his second season with the X’s. Salazar joined the team in late July of the 2011 season, and was a strong addition to the starting rotation.

The Caracas, Venezuela native started the 2011 season with then-reigning American Association Champions, Shreveport-Bossier Captains. In 12 starts, Salazar went 4-4, posting a 4.61 ERA in a hitter-friendly South Division before being released. With the Explorers, he went 3-2 in 8 starts, pitching one complete game. In 54.1 innings pitched, Salazar struck out 35 batters, while only allowing 12 free passes and 26 earned runs, giving him a 4.31 ERA.

“We’re delighted to have a veteran pitcher in Richard Salazar returning for the 2012 season,” commented X’s Field Manager Stan Cliburn. “He brings experience and leadership to the pitching staff.”

The 2012 season marks Salazar’s fifth year in the American Association. Over four seasons, mainly as a starter, he has accumulated a 27-18 record and posted a solid 3.84 ERA with 284 strikeouts and 132 walks in 405 innings pitched. Those career numbers place him 6th (strikeouts), 7th (wins) and 8th (innings pitched) among other pitchers in the American Association. In 2010, Salazar was selected as an All-Star for the South Division. That year he had a career high 10 wins for the Captains, while allowing only 51 earned runs over 121.1 innings pitched.

Prior to his years in the American Association, Salazar was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th round of the 2001 MLB Amateur Draft. He was in the Orioles organization for six years, working his way up to the Norfolk Tide, the Triple-A affiliate of Baltimore. During those years, the 29-year-old lefty saw most of his action out of the bullpen, playing in 216 games. He posted a 17-14 record with a strong 3.75 ERA in 358 innings pitched.

The Explorers will kick off their 20th season on May 17th in Sioux Falls, SD versus the Fighting Pheasants, for a split series against their I-29 rivals. The X’s 2012 Home Opener will be Saturday, May 19th versus the Pheasants in a 7:05 contest with post-game fireworks following the game. Season tickets are on sale now. Call 277-WINS (9467) or stop by the off-season office (600 Stevens Port Dr. #112, Dakota Dunes, SD) to reserve your seats today!