Benches clear in Rays-Red Sox game

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After Franklin Morales drilled Luke Scott in the top of the ninth — apparent retaliation for a plunking of Dustin Pedroia earlier — benches cleared in Friday’s game between the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park, which Tampa Bay went on to win 7-4.

Some bad blood likely carried over from last week’s series in Tampa Bay, in which the Rays hit Adrian Gonzalez and Morales later came back and plunked Will Rhymes. It was a similar scene tonight, with Pedroia getting hit and the Red Sox later going after Scott. Morales actually threw behind Scott once before coming back and hitting him in the knee.

The oddity is that neither Morales nor Scott, who held on to his bat while jawing at Morales after the plunking, was ejected from the game. Morales certainly deserved to be tossed; his intentions were clear after he threw behind Scott. Scott didn’t really do much wrong himself.

Also unusual: the coaching staffs seemed much more interested in mixing it up than the players did after the benches cleared. Rays coaches George Hendrick and Jim Hickey and Red Sox coach Tim Bogar — a former Rays coach — and manager Bobby Valentine seemed more belligerent that anyone else.

After things appeared to settle down and the parties returned to their dugouts, there was another incident, this one apparently involving some fans, that had B.J. Upton coming back out of the Rays dugout and pointing up to the stands. We may hear more about what happened there after the game.

Morales went on to finish the inning after order was restored. Still, he could well find himself suspended for a few games for his actions tonight.

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.