Brad Ausmus wants Victor Martinez catching again

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Victor Martinez missed the entire 2012 season with a knee injury and caught only three times all of last season, but two years after his last regular game action behind the plate he’s putting on the gear again this spring.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News writes that new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus called Martinez during the offseason to tell him to be ready for some catching duties and according to Ausmus “he was thrilled with it.”

Alex Avila remains the Tigers’ starting catcher and the vast majority of Martinez’s action will no doubt still come as a designated hitter, but Ausmus specifically cited interleague games in NL parks as a reason for Martinez to get back behind the plate at age 35.

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.