Hisashi Iwakuma out 4-6 weeks with finger injury

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Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who finished third in the Cy Young voting last season, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a finger injury sustained while working out at home last month.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Iwakuma suffered a strained tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand. The good news is that it won’t require surgery. The bad news is that he’s at least three weeks from doing any throwing and his status for Opening Day–and perhaps much April–is very much in question.

Iwakuma was fantastic last season, throwing 220 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 185/42 K/BB ratio, and the Mariners have him under contract (cheaply) through 2015.

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.