Baseball begins in Japan

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There were no mentions of the considerable ambivalence regarding the opening of the NPB season in Japan today, but open it did:

Local TV showed people in shelters watching the game, before which there was a moment of silence, and each fan in the Chiba cheering section held up signs of support for the disaster areas which said, “Stay Strong Japan.”

“Despite the difficult conditions, we are able to open the season because everybody helped us to do it,” said Rakuten infielder Kazuo Matsui, a former major leaguer in the United States. “I want to carry this feeling of appreciation for the whole year by playing baseball.

No one who hasn’t been through what the people of Japan have been though can say anything particularly intelligent about all of this. But I do wonder — like some in yesterday’s article wondered — if those who are still struggling to simply survive don’t feel left behind. Left behind by people striving to return to normalcy, but whose normalcy wasn’t nearly as disrupted as that of others.

Report: Rangers’ deal with Seung-hwan Oh is off

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The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.

Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.

While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.