Padres clear Melvin Upton to begin a rehab assignment

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Melvin Upton has been on the disabled list all season with a foot injury after being included in the Craig Kimbrel trade between the Braves and Padres purely for salary considerations, but now he’s ready to start playing again.

Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Upton will begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A this weekend, noting that it’s expected to be “lengthy” and at least 40-50 at-bats.

Upton, who changed his name from B.J. this year, is in the third season of a five-year, $75 million deal. Atlanta gave up on him after Upton hit just .198 with a .593 OPS and 324 strikeouts in 267 games through the first two years of the contract, looking totally washed up before age 30.

Once healthy he’ll fill a part-time role for the Padres, who’re no doubt just hoping to get some backup-caliber production out of the once-promising center fielder.

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.