Pirates call up minor league home run leader Andrew Lambo

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Pirates prospect Andrew Lambo leads the minor leagues in homers with 31, going deep 14 times in 58 games at Double-A and 17 times in 59 games at Triple-A. And now the 24-year-old outfielder is headed to the majors for the first time.

Pittsburgh has called up Lambo, who hit .284 with a .926 OPS in 117 total games this season. He was originally acquired from the Dodgers in the mid-2010 trade for Octavio Dotel and missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.

Obviously the power potential gives Lambo a chance to make a significant impact down the stretch, but he also struck out 123 times in 491 plate appearances and had relatively modest career numbers before this year’s breakout. He has experience in both corner outfield spots as well as first base, so Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could mix and match his lineup choices.

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.