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Wladimir Balentien flips on the television and takes in a rare moment of relaxation. Instead of his Tokyo Yakult Swallows uniform, which will be worn later, he’s clad simply in a red T-shirt commemorating his back-to-back home run titles and yellow shorts from a past NPB All-Star Series.

Here in the relative peace of this small, air-conditioned room near the team’s clubhouse it’s quiet, and the space offers a brief respite from both the unrelenting heat of a Tokyo summer and the glare of an ever-brightening spotlight.

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