Swallows’ Balentien released on bail


Tokyo Yakult Swallows slugger Wladimir Balentien, who last year broke the Japanese home runs record, was released on bail on Wednesday following his arrest on charges of domestic violence.

Balentien paid $50,000 bail and must stay away from his wife, Karla. The 29-year-old is scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday.

Yakult official Masayuki Okumura, who is in charge of overseas recruitments, arrived in Miami after Balentien’s release and is scheduled to hold talks with the player.

“We are taking this (matter) very seriously. Just because he is out (of detention) that doesn’t make it OK,” said Okumura. “I want to tell him that this has created a fuss in Japan.”

Balentien sought bail in Florida on Tuesday, a day after he was arrested.

Court records show Balentien entered his wife’s house in the Miami area through a window and when she refused to let him in, he grabbed her by the arm and locked her in a bedroom, according to local law enforcement.

The couple, married for about six years, is going through a divorce.

The Swallows will hold a spring training camp beginning on Feb. 1, but team president Tsuyoshi Kinugasa said it appeared that Balentien, who has a court date scheduled for Jan. 24, won’t be there for the start.

“It may be difficult for him to get a flight by Jan. 30,” Kinugasa said in Tokyo on Thursday. “We hope he gets here, even if he comes a week or so late.”

Since he is under arrest, Balentien may be prohibited from traveling, although his legal defense team has raised the point that he needs to attend camp. The court has allowed him to put his passport in his attorney’s care rather than surrendering it to the court.

Yakult is currently not pursuing any disciplinary measures against the reigning Central League MVP, with Kinugasa saying he wants the player to play and, with an apologetic stance, show what he can do.

Balentien hit 60 home runs last year to break the record of 55 set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964 and matched by Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera in 2001 and 2002, respectively.