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Swallows’ Balentien makes season debut, leaves with possible injury after fifth inning

by

Staff Writer

Wladimir Balentien scored from second on a single in the second inning, motoring around third past the waving arm of base coach Kazuki Fukuchi, who urged him forward, to cross home plate for the first time this season.

Three frames later, he was gone.

Balentien, who missed the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ first 22 games of the season while nursing an left Achilles injury, looked like he might have been troubled by the ailment again while trying to run down a fly ball during the fifth inning of the Swallows’ 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants in 10 innings on Friday night at Jingu Stadium.

“Right now I can’t really say,” Swallows manager Mitsuru Manaka said of Balentien’s condition. “It might not be the same injury, it could be in the groin area. We’ll look at it tomorrow.”

Manaka said it was possible Balentien, who was making his long-awaited season debut, could spend more time off the roster, but could not make any determinations until he had more information.

Balentien didn’t have any issues in the field in the top of the first, and drew a walk in his first plate appearance of the season in bottom the second. He went to second on a hit by Yuhei Takai and scored on an RBI single by Keiji Obiki. He made it through the next two innings without incident, grounding out in the fourth in his second trip to the plate.

The problems began early in the fifth, when Shuichi Murata hit a ball near the foul line in shallow left, with Balentien and Obiki giving chase. Balentien gamely, though laboriously, made his way to the ball but grimaced as pulled he up short, while Obiki failed to make the catch.

Balentien dropped to his knees to collect himself before gingerly making his way back out to his defensive position. He finished the inning, though at times bent over with his hands resting on his knees, and made a slow walk back to the Swallows dugout and disappeared down the stairs.

Yasushi Iihara took over in left field to start the sixth.