Arizona signs former big-league OF Jason Lane as a LHP

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Jason Lane, who made six relief appearances when he wasn’t playing the outfield for Triple-A Las Vegas last season, will make a full-time move to the mound next season. The Diamondbacks have signed him to a minor league deal as a left-handed pitcher.

Lane hit 26 homers for the Astros as a 28-year-old back in 2005, but he hasn’t seen the majors since 2007. He’ll play next year at 35, so it’s an awfully late conversion to the mound for the former USC Trojan. But his arm will certainly be fresh.

Overall, Lane is a .241/.314/.457 hitter with 61 homers in 1,208 major league at-bats. He came in at .291/.358/.460 with six homers in 213 at-bats for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate last season. In his 13 innings on the mound, he had a 4.85 ERA and a 12/2 K/BB ratio.

It seems like a long shot that Lane will turn into a serviceable major league reliever, but if he does, it could lead to some really interesting times in Arizona. The Diamondbacks will likely have right-hander Micah Owings back in their pen next year. It’d be fascinating to see the team try to pair the two once in a while: they could alternate between left field and the mound, with Owings facing righties and Lane taking on lefties.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.