Some notable numbers from Japan: Central League stats

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Every so often I like to see how some old friends are doing in Japan.  We’ll start with a scan through the Central League numbers and then move on to the Pacific League tomorrow.

Wladimir Balentien: .345/.430/.718, 14 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB in 142 AB
Tony Blanco: .220/.306/.441, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB in 127 AB
Craig Brazell: .240/.284/.370, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 146 AB
Joel Guzman: .142/.200/.217, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB in 106 AB
Brett Harper: .259/.345/.435, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB in 147 AB
Kenji Johjima: .189/.243/.326, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB in 132 AB
Matt Murton: .277/.319/.358, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB in 173 AB
Alex Ramirez: .268/.315/.465, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB in 157 AB
Rusty Ryal: .219/.260/.260, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB in 73 AB
Terrmel Sledge: .278/.337/.488, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB in 162 AB
Chad Tracy: .235/.293/.336, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB in 149 AB
Josh Whitesell: .287/.393/.574, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 94 AB

– Balentien is setting the pace for everyone in his first year in the Central League. He not only leads the league in hitting, but he has five more homers than anyone else. Only Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, at .618, is within 200 points of his .718 slugging perentage.

It’ll be interesting to see if Balentien stays in Japan after this. In 511 major league at-bats with the Mariners and Reds from 2007-09, he hit .221/.281/.374 with 15 homers. However, at 26 (27 in July), he’s still young enough to entice major league teams if anyone believes he’s taken a real step forward.

– Murton broke Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hit record last year in his first year in Japan, but he hasn’t been nearly as successful so far this year.

– Failed former top prospect Joel Guzman hit .279/.344/.519 with 33 homers and 98 RBI with the Orioles’ Double-A club to earn the gig in Japan, but he hasn’t been able to capitalize.  He’s fanned 44 times in 106 at-bats for the Chunichi Dragons.

Jonathan Albaladejo: 1-0, 2 Sv, 0.42 ERA, 24/6 K/BB in 21.1 IP
Tony Barnette: 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 19/3 K/BB in 14 IP
Bryan Bullington: 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 55 IP
Seth Greisinger: 1-2, 4.12 ERA, 10/6 K/BB in 19.2 IP
Clay Hamilton: 1-4, 6.68 ERA, 14/10 K/BB in 32.1 IP
Randy Messenger: 2-1, 2.34 ERA, 29/14 K/BB in 34.2 IP
Tomo Ohka: 0-1, 15.00 ERA, 3/3 K/BB in 6 IP
Dennis Sarfate: 1-1, 11 Sv, 2.18 ERA, 28/2 K/BB in 20.2 IP
Mike Schultz: 0-0, 1.06 ERA, 7/11 K/BB in 17 IP
Jason Standridge: 2-2, 3.20 ERA, 28/17 K/BB in 39.1 IP
Carlos Torres: 0-1, 8.16 ERA, 9/9 K/BB in 14.1 IP

– I always thought Albaladejo would turn into a perfectly useful major league reliever, and it’s a shame no one chose to claim him off waivers before the Yankees could ship him to Japan over the winter.  That transaction netted the Bombers a cool $1.2 million.

– Bullington, the one-time No. 1 overall pick of the Pirates, ranks eighth in the six-team Central League with his 2.45 ERA.  As will become even more obvious when we look at the Pacific League numbers tomorrow, offense is well down in Japan, too.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.