Brandon Allen has beaten out Kila Ka’aihue to be the A’s starting first baseman, at least for their opening game of the season in Japan.
Ka’aihue is still in the mix for playing time, but Jane Lee of MLB.com reports that manager Bob Melvin was unimpressed with his defense and prefers Allen’s combination of power and fielding.
Allen has already been traded twice at age 26, going from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks for Tony Pena and then from the Diamondbacks to the A’s for Brad Ziegler. He’s struggled in a few brief big-league stints, but has a strong minor-league track record that includes a .286 batting average, .401 on-base percentage, and .555 slugging percentage in 253 games at Triple-A.
One of the few nice things about the A’s blowing up the roster on the way to what is likely a 90-loss season is that they can afford to give extended opportunities to guys like Allen and, in his case, might end up finding a quality hitter who can stick in the lineup for several years.
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.