Braves are leaning towards bringing back Kris Medlen

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Kris Medlen won’t be ready to pitch when the 2015 season begins as he’ll still be working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but the Braves are still leaning towards bringing him back, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The nearly $6 million Medlen is projected to earn through arbitration is too expensive for the Braves given his injury, but they would be interested in a reduced contract with incentives.

Medlen, 29, had a fantastic 2013 season, finishing with a 3.11 ERA and a 157/47 K/BB ratio in 197 innings. His return could be one way the Braves deal with the expected loss of Ervin Santana, to whom the club has made a $15.3 million qualifying offer. The Braves could also bring back Brandon Beachy, who is also coming back from Tommy John surgery and is also arbitration-eligible.

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.