Balentien apologizes in Japan for Florida arrest
TOKYO (AP) — Yakult Swallows slugger Wladimir Balentien apologized to his fans Wednesday, several days after pleading not guilty to domestic violence charges in Florida.
As is the custom in Japan, Balentien bowed deeply and then apologized to his fans and teammates for the actions that led to his arrest on Jan. 13.
“I want to apologize to my fans, the Swallows’ organization and my teammates for all the things that have gone on,” Balentien said at a news conference. “I’m glad I arrived in time for spring training and want to do my best to help the team win a lot of game this season.”
Police say Balentien pulled out screens at his estranged wife’s Miami-area home and climbed through a window. He is accused of grabbing his wife’s arm as she ran upstairs, following her into a bedroom and locking the door.
The Curacao-born Balentien was freed on bail and returned to Japan on Tuesday.
Balentien hit 60 homers last year, breaking Japan’s previous season record of 55. He also has played for Seattle (2007-09) and Cincinnati (2009).
The 29-year-old faced a barrage of questions from Japanese reporters who wanted to know everything from how the controversy affected his psychological state to what impact it will have on children.
“It’s all in the past and I’m not going to keep it in my mind,” Balentien said. “It’s now time to focus on baseball and that’s what I intend to do.”
Balentien will not need to attend his arraignment. His trial, if necessary, will be held after the season. He is scheduled to return to the United States in May for divorce proceedings.
“This is not a good feeling,” Balentien said. “I don’t want anyone to go through it. I didn’t want to go through it. I just want to play baseball.”