Sean Doolittle’s recovery from a partially torn rotator cuff in his shoulder progressed to the point that the A’s closer has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Single-A.
Doolittle has spent the entire season on the disabled list and there’s no word yet on how long the A’s expect him to spend rehabbing in the minors, but so far he’s avoided any setbacks leading up to this point.
Tyler Clippard has filled in for Doolittle as the A’s closer, although Oakland hasn’t had many save opportunities to go around while starting the season 13-22. Clippard has three saves, Jesse Chavez has one, and that’s it.
Last season Doolittle took over as the A’s closer in mid-May and saved 22 games with a 2.73 ERA and 89/8 K/BB ratio in 63 innings, allowing zero runs in 53 of 61 appearances. If healthy the 28-year-old converted first baseman has proven to be one of the elite relievers in the league and along with Clippard would form a fantastic late-inning duo in Oakland.
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.