• Kyodo

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Wladimir Balentien, who set Nippon Professional Baseball’s single-season home run record with 60 in 2013, will leave the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks as the Pacific League team has decided not to renew his contract, a source said Wednesday.

The source said the 37-year-old Curacao-born slugger has expressed a desire to continue his career in Japan, but he will leave the country in early October after the minor league season wraps up.

Balentien is a former major leaguer who has played in NPB since 2011, first with the Yakult Swallows in the Central League. In his nine seasons with the Tokyo-based Swallows, he hit 288 homers.

He joined the Hawks on a two-year contract in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but he hit just nine homers with 22 RBIs in 60 games.

This season, he reached a milestone when he hit his 300th homer of his NPB career in June, but he was sent down to the farm team at the end of the month after a lackluster return of four homers and nine RBIs in 22 games.

Before his time in Japan, Balentien played in the majors from 2007-2009 with the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds. In 170 MLB games, he hit .221 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs.

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