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.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed rib inflammation on his left side, Maddie Lee of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Rizzo has been dealing with back soreness for the last week and has missed several intrasquad games as a result.
Rizzo is unsure if he can avoid opening the regular season on the injured list. He said, “I’ll do everything I can to stay off of it, obviously. … Every game’s important. So, we’ve got to get off to a good start and hopefully I’m out there with the guys. I plan on it, but you can’t control it and you’ve got to be smart.”
Rizzo, who turns 31 years old next month, is coming off of another highly productive season in which he hit .293/.405/.520 with 27 home runs, 94 RBI, and 89 runs scored over 613 plate appearances. In the event he needs to open the season on the IL, Victor Caratini figures to get the first crack at handling first base.
The Cubs missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014, finishing in third place with a 84-78 record. Rizzo, no doubt, will play a big role if the Cubs are to find themselves back in the postseason.