Wladimir Balentien is close to breaking the Japanese home run record

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One-time Mariners prospect and former Mariners and Reds outfielder Wladimir Balentien has been playing in Japan since 2011 and this year he’s making a serious run at the single-season homer record.

Balentien, who hit 31 homers for the Yakult Swallows in both 2011 and 2012, has 50 homers through 98 games this season. Yakult has 33 games remaining and the all-time record in Japan is 55 homers by Sadaharu Oh in 1964, Tuffy Rhodes in 2001, and Alex Cabrera in 2002.

Balentien always flashed 30-homer power coming up through the minors and went deep 15 times in 511 at-bats as a big leaguer, but he struck out a ton and struggled to post decent batting averages. This year for Yakult he’s hitting .335 with as many walks (76) as strikeouts (76) and sports an OPS near 1.300.

Eric Hinske joins Angels as a hitting coach

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The Angels announced on Monday that Eric Hinske has joined the team to serve as the new hitting coach. Hinske had been the hitting coach for the Cubs since 2014.

Hinske, 40, spent parts of 12 years in the majors, though he never played for the Angels (or the Cubs). He put up a .762 OPS over his career.

Dave Hansen had been the Angels hitting coach since the end of the 2015 season but the Angels decided to part ways with him heading into 2018.