Wladimir Balentien, Wily Mo Pena crushing the ball in Japan

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A pair of former major leaguers are topping the Japanese League leaderboards in the early going.

Former Mariners and Reds outfielder Wladimir Balentin is hitting .333/.449/.729 with 12 homers and 24 RBI in 96 at-bats for the Yakult Swallows of the Central League. No one else in the six-team circuit has more than four homers so far. Balentien also leads the league in average, RBI and runs scored.

Wily Mo Pena hasn’t been quite so dominant in the Pacific League, but he does have seven homers, two more than anyone else there. He’s hitting .309/.374/.591, despite having struck out 31 times in 110 at-bats.

On the pitching side of the equation, no one has been better than former Tigers right-hander Seth Greisinger. He’s 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA and 28 strikeouts in his four starts for the Lotte Marines.

If you’re curious to see more, all of the stats from Japan can be found here.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.