Chad Billingsley made a rehab start at Single-A

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Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley underwent Tommy John surgery in late April last season. After a rehab start at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday, the right-hander is one step closer towards his return. Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports that Billingsley threw a perfect inning with a strikeout.

Billingsley did come out for the second inning, but was on a pitch limit, so he left after ten more pitches. Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reports that Billingsley walked off with a trainer, but it is unknown at the moment if that was just precautionary or an indication of a serious issue.

[Update: Per Hernandez, Billingsley felt “a little sensation” in his elbow. Manager Don Mattingly says it is not a reason for alarm.]

With the assumption that nothing has gone wrong, Billingsley is on track to make five more rehab starts before becoming a candidate to rejoin the Dodgers’ starting rotation some time in May.

The Dodgers could use another solid arm in the rotation, as they are currently dealing with injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett.

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.