Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders was initially expected to miss all of the first half of the regular season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee on Wednesday. However, Saunders underwent surgery to remove the meniscus on Friday and the timeline has been altered to five to six weeks, as Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports.
Why the change? The tear was so severe that it could not be repaired, only removed. The initial plan was to fix the meniscus and that comes with a longer period of recovery, but once Saunders was on the operating table and the damage was assessed, “it wasn’t even an option,” according to GM Alex Anthopoulos.
The Blue Jays acquired Saunders from the Mariners in December in exchange for pitcher J.A. Happ. The Jays are reportedly interested in free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, but their need for outfield depth isn’t as great now that Saunders should return in the latter half of April as opposed to July.
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.