Scott Downs to undergo MRI on right ankle

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Scott Downs left this afternoon’s game against the Twins after having his foot stepped on by Denard Span while covering first base in the seventh inning. If you want to be thoroughly grossed out, watch a GIF of the play over at Getting Blanked. Hope you aren’t eating dinner right now.

The initial diagnosis from the team was a right ankle contusion and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that X-rays “didn’t really show anything.” Still, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes that he was walking with the help of crutches after the game and will undergo an MRI when the team gets to New York. It wouldn’t be surprising if a DL-stint is in his future.

Downs, 36, has tossed two scoreless innings this season after posting a 1.34 ERA and 35/15 K/BB ratio over 53 2/3 innings in 2011. He’ll return to a set-up role once he’s back to full health.

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.