Earlier this season a scandal erupted in Japanese baseball when NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato admitted that the league had doctored the baseballs in order to generate more offense. Back in June, when the scandal was revealed, players in the league demanded that Kato step down. He declined to. Now he has:
Japanese baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato has announced his resignation at an owners’ meeting … “I caused a lot of problems over the ball, and that was a huge reason for my decision,” Kyodo news agency quoted Kato as saying.
This comes days after Wladimir Balentien broke the single-season home run record of 55 (he currently has 58). Kato, however, says that Balentien’s feat was not aided by the doctored balls.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.