Report: Rangers making progress on deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams

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Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Rangers are “making progress” on a deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams. Talks have “intensified” since left-hander Derek Holland suffered a left knee injury which will likely keep him sidelined until midseason.

Williams was non-tendered by the Angels in December after posting a 4.57 ERA and 107/55 K/BB ratio over 169 1/3 innings over 25 starts and 12 relief appearances last season. The 32-year-old had a 4.58 ERA in 15 starts and 17 relief appearances in 2012.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said yesterday the Holland injury won’t put any pressure on the club to make a move for a “big ticket” starting pitcher, but they are obviously looking for some insurance. As of now, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch, and Tanner Scheppers are all in the mix for the final two spots in the rotation.

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.