Frank Francisco’s odds of being ready for Opening Day seem slim after the Mets reliever told reporters yesterday that his inflamed elbow is “at zero” percent and manager Terry Collins wasted no time lining up a replacement closer.
Marc Carig of New York Newsday reports that Collins called Bobby Parnell last night to tell him he’d get the ninth-inning nod if Francisco isn’t ready to begin the season and “then followed up with both Parnell and Francisco this morning.”
Recent signing Brandon Lyon has more closing experience, but Parnell saved seven games filling in for Francisco last season and has pitched very well in a setup role for three seasons now. During that time Parnell has thrown 163 total innings with a 2.98 ERA and 158 strikeouts, so Francisco’s injury may actually lead to the Mets handing the closer job to their most deserving reliever.
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.