The Tokyo Yakult Swallows had a lengthy break between the end of the regular season (Oct. 4) and the beginning of the Central League Climax Series final stage on Wednesday night.
Wladimir Balentien is hoping it was just enough time to work out the kinks.
The Swallows slugger was in high spirits after batting practice prior to Game 1 against the Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday at Jingu Stadium. Balentien went through his normal routine during practice and biked over to the team’s clubhouse, to get ready for the night’s contest.
“I’m ready, I feel good,” Balentien said.
Balentien missed most of the regular season with a injury to his left Achilles and an ailing thigh. He was limited to just 15 games, in which he hit .186 with a home run and six RBIs. Balentien is still trying to work his way back into the form that saw him lead the CL in home runs from 2011-2013.
“I just wanna do good and help my team win ball games,” he said.
The Swallows flew south to participate in the Miyazaki Phoenix League, an NPB-run fall league, after the regular season. There, they tried to stay fresh while the Giants and Hanshin Tigers competed in the first stage of the Climax Series. Balentien used the break to get in reps at the plate and also search for holes in his current approach.
“I was watching video (from last year),” Balentien said. “I was watching the video and seeing what I was doing when I was doing well, when I was hitting, and what I’m doing wrong right now.
“When I was hitting, my body was straight, and now my body is leaning toward home plate.”
While Balentien didn’t play many games during the regular season, he faced the Giants six times and was 6-for-18 with a home run and four RBIs against them. He drew four walks, but also struck out five times.
“We’re going to face the same pitchers, they’re probably just going to change their approach a little bit,” he said. “They’re probably not going to pitch the same way as during the season because this is a short series. But the game is about making adjustments. You just gotta go up there and see how they pitch you and make your adjustments to that.”