Matt Garza to return from disabled list Tuesday, Carlos Villanueva headed to bullpen

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Matt Garza has been cleared to return from the disabled list and will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, according to CSNChicago.com.

Garza didn’t throw a pitch after July 21 last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow and was forced to begin this season on the disabled list due to a strained lat. The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 1.17 ERA and 11/4 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings over four rehab starts, including six scoreless innings with Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. Garza is due to become a free agent after the season, so he could become useful trade bait leading up to the July 31 deadline if he can prove healthy and effective.

In order to clear a spot for Garza in the rotation, Carlos Villaneuva will be moved to the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander has a solid 3.93 ERA and 36/14 K/BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over eight starts this season, but Travis Wood and Scott Feldman have had better results and Edwin Jackson isn’t going anywhere after he joined the club on a four-year, $52 million contract this winter. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Villanueva will be available for any relief situation, not just as a longman.

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.