Michael Saunders will rest for 4-6 weeks due to knee injury

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Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders returned to the disabled list this week due to renewed discomfort in his surgically-repaired left knee and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that he’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Saunders, who was acquired from the Mariners over the winter, injured his knee in a freak accident in late February when he stepped on a sprinkler head at Toronto’s spring training facility. Surgery was originally expected to leave him on the shelf until around the All-Star break, but the timetable was moved up after he had 60 percent of his meniscus removed. The 28-year-old made his season debut on April 25, but batted just .194 (6-for-31) with a .499 OPS over nine games before landing on the DL this week.

The hope is that rest will do Saunders some good, but Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos admitted that he might not be 100 percent until the offseason. Bad news for someone who looked like a quality pickup for Toronto.

Dalton Pompey was demoted to Triple-A after a slow start and Jose Bautista has been limited to designated hitter duties due to a shoulder injury, so the Blue Jays are currently relying on a combination of Kevin Pillar, Chris Colabello, Ezequiel Carrera, and Danny Valencia in their outfield.

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.