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Trade rumors swirling, J.T. Realmuto blasts solo home run in first game of Japan All-Star Series

Could that be his final home run in a Marlins uniform?

Realmuto’s home run extends MLB’s lead over Yomiuri Giants in 9-6 win

Sayonara! Serving as the Major League Baseball starting catcher in the opening exhibition of the Japan All-Star Series, Marlins franchise player/top trade chip J.T. Realmuto lined an opposite-field solo home run in the fifth inning. It extended MLB’s lead over the Yomiuri Giants to 8-4 in an eventual 9-6 win Thursday night (very early Thursday morning in the U.S.).

Realmuto had the only long ball for the visitors. Don Mattingly, who’s managing the team, started him in the No. 7 spot, where he went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. The other one came around to score on this well-placed “double” up the middle:

Mattingly removed J.T. in the bottom of the seventh for defensive sub Robinson Chirinos.

That was just a tune-up. Beginning Friday and continuing through Nov. 15, the MLB squad will play six games against the stacked Samurai Japan roster in the Japan All-Star Tour.

Back home, the rumors about Realmuto continue to fly with at least eight teams “touching base” with the Marlins about his availability during the GM Meetings. It’s not affecting him on the field, apparently.

Major league players are wearing the uniforms of their MLB employers, making it extremely awkward if the Fish struck a deal during the next week. That’s unlikely to happen, anyway—such blockbusters typically get done around the Winter Meetings in December.