Astros players upset over Mark Appel’s promotion to Double-A, bullpen session in Houston

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Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday despite posting a 9.74 ERA and 1.92 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings at High-A Lancaster. And he was invited to Minute Maid Park in Houston on Sunday morning to throw a bullpen session in front of Astros coaches and executives. This stuff is not sitting well with some of the players on the Astros’ current major league roster. Here’s reporter Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle

It’s pretty common for top prospects to be moved aggressively through the minors and to have workouts in front of members of the major league coaching staff, so this anger seems odd. Perhaps it’s the culmination of a growing divide between the Houston front office and some of the Astros’ players — the shady handling of George Springer’s callup and the bungling of the Brady Aiken negotiations only adding fuel to the fire.

“I will handle those conversations internally,” Astros manager Bo Porter told Ortiz on Sunday afternoon. “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it.”

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.