Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos watched Jonathan Papelbon pitch Friday

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Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said last month that he would be interested in a trade to the Blue Jays and it appears that the possibility might still have some legs. Check out this report from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

Maybe Alex Anthopoulos, general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, popped into Bright House Field on Friday afternoon because he enjoys those Delco’s cheesesteaks that they sell behind home plate.

Or maybe he was there to see Jonathan Papelbon.

Whatever the case, it was quite interesting to see Anthopoulos seated in the scouts’ section watching the Phillies play the New York Yankees while his own team was hosting the Detroit Tigers just a few miles away in Dunedin.

Rain began falling in the third inning and Anthopoulos soon vanished. But he was there long enough to see Papelbon have another good spring outing.

According to Salisbury, Papelbon smiled when he heard Anthopoulos was in attendance and said, “Huh, interesting.”

As of now, the Blue Jays are set to go into the season with Brett Cecil as their closer, but they could obviously revisit the situation at some point. Anthopoulos was likely just doing some due diligence on that end.

Papelbon has the ability to block trades to 17 teams, including the Blue Jays. The 34-year-old could demand for his $13 million vesting option for 2016 to be picked up in order to sign off on a deal.

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.