Wily Mo Pena close to signing deal with Japanese team

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According to Sponichi in Japan, via Yakyubaka.com and CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball, free agent slugger Wily Mo Pena is close to signing a two-year contract with the Softbank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Pena, 29, slugged seven home runs in 120 major league plate appearances this past year between the Diamondbacks and Mariners. He also tallied 25 homers in 76 games at the Triple-A level.

That raw power has always been intriguing to big league front offices, but Pena has never really had a position — he’s a highly unreliable defensive outfielder — and never possessed the kind of plate discipline that would make him worthy of a starting DH gig. His career MLB strikeout rate is 30.3%.

The Sponichi report suggests that he will receive around $5 million in total salary, a lofty price tag for any NPB athlete. Perhaps the Softbank Hawks believe that the batting-practice showman carries star potential.

José Ureña drills Ronald Acuña, Marlins’ and Braves’ benches clear

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña has been on a tear lately, homering in five consecutive games and in seven of his last eight. His last three games, all against the Marlins, have featured a leadoff home run.

Understandably, Marlins starter José Ureña was not eager to face Acuña leading off Wednesday night’s game. However, Ureña got around facing Acuña by drilling him in the left elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied. No punches were thrown, but there was a lot of yelling.

Braves manager Brian Snitker was thrown out after yelling at the umpires because Ureña was not immediately ejected. The umpires conferred and later decided to eject him before play resumed. They then issued warnings to both teams.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended by Major League Baseball. And he should be.