Must-click link: the politics of the Japanese home run record

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We’ve talked a lot lately about Wladimir Balentien’s assault on the Japanese home run record. And in the course of that talk we’ve made passing mention of how previous challenges to the record — held by the great Sadaharu Oh — have been met with hostility and many, many intentional walks.

Today the Japan Times has an in-depth story about that. They talk to Randy Bass, who challenged the record in 1985. They talk about Tuffy Rhodes’ and Alex Cabrera’s run at 55 as well. The mark has been tied but not surpassed, and the story spends a lot of time talking about the hows and the whys of it all.  It’s a fascinating read about a fascinating, albeit at times frustrating, baseball culture.

Braves sign David Hernandez

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Bill Whitehead of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Braves have signed reliever David Hernandez to a minor league contract on Sunday. He’ll report to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Hernandez, who turns 32 years old in May, signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February. He requested and was granted his release on Friday when he learned he wasn’t making the team’s 25-man roster to open the season.

Hernandez pitched for the Phillies last year. He compiled a 3.84 ERA with an 80/32 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dave Roberts: It “doesn’t make sense” for Scott Kazmir to start year in Dodgers’ rotation

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Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.

Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.

Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.