Wladimir Balentien, Japan’s single-season home run king, apologized Wednesday to fans and teammates over his arrest in Florida on domestic violence charges.
The 28-year-old Balentien, who broke Nippon Professional Baseball’s record last season with 60 home runs, said he wanted to put off-field issues behind him so he could work on having a better season in 2014.
“First of all I want to apologize to my fans,” he told a news conference at the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ team office in Tokyo. “I want to apologize to the Yakult Swallows’ fans, to the Yakult Swallows’ organization and to my teammates for all the stuff that’s going on.
“I’m going to try to do my best to help the team win a lot of ballgames.”
Balentien was voted the Central League’s MVP last year, despite Yakult’s last-place finish, but his offseason was marred by his arrest on Jan. 12 over charges he grabbed his wife by her arm and locked her in a bedroom. The two are currently in the process of getting divorced.
Balentien is currently out on bail after pleading not guilty, and will not need to attend his arraignment. His trial, if necessary, will be held after the season. He is, however, scheduled to return to the United States in May for divorce proceedings
“It’s not a good feeling. I don’t want anyone to go through it. I didn’t want to go through it,” he said. “I just want to play baseball.”