Excellent news for the Yankees and their fans here, as right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw two perfect innings this evening in his Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.
Tanaka struck out two batters and induced four weak groundballs. He topped out at 94 mph and threw 15 out of 19 pitches for strikes while exhibiting good control of his splitter. It’s worth noting that Tanaka got through his two innings so quickly that he finished his night by throwing some more pitches in the bullpen. You really couldn’t ask for much better.
Tanaka was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow last July, but he decided to rehab the elbow on the advice of doctors rather than have Tommy John surgery. He made it back for two starts in September and had a normal offseason, so the Yankees are planning on him being a part of their rotation this year. Who knows if his elbow will hold up, but tonight we can emphasize the positive. If healthy, Tanaka and Michael Pineda could really be something at the top of that rotation.
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.