Derek Holland throws off mound for first time since January microfracture knee surgery

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From Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas comes word that Rangers left-hander Derek Holland threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas — his first time atop a mound since he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee back on January 10.

It was a nice first step for Holland, who is expected to be sidelined until the middle of the 2014 season.

The 25-year-old southpaw posted a strong 3.42 ERA (120 ERA+), 1.286 WHIP, and 189 strikeouts in 213 innings last season for the Rangers. He signed a five-year, $28 million contract extension with Texas in March 2012.

Holland injured his knee this winter when his dog ran into him on a staircase at his home.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.