Albert Pujols returns to Angels’ starting lineup

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Albert Pujols missed two days after leaving Wednesday’s game due to left hamstring tightness, but he’s back in the starting lineup today against the Giants.

While Pujols is back in his standard No. 3 spot, Mike Scioscia’s lineup has a slightly different look. Kole Calhoun moved into the cleanup spot while Pujols was out and will remain there today. He’s been the team’s primary leadoff hitter, but Erick Abyar will get his third straight start there today. Mike Trout remains in the No. 2 spot.

The Angels have tried multiple hitters out of the cleanup spot this season, including Matt Joyce and David Freese. However, Freese doesn’t hit righties and Joyce has struggled against pretty much everyone. Calhoun owns a .276/.334/.450 batting line in the majors and the hope is that he can function as a run-producer.

The Angels led the majors in runs scored last season, but they ranked 18th at the start of Saturday’s action.

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.