Video: Ryan Howard launches his ninth home run

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The Phillies shopped Ryan Howard all winter and GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. said at one point that they’d be better off without him, but the veteran first baseman continues to show that there’s still some life remaining in his bat. Check out this blast against the Rockies today:

[mlbvideo id=”125012483″ width=”560″ height=”315″ /]

Part of the reason I posted this video was to show the kid who caught the home run ball and his celebratory reaction. You have to smile watching that.

Howard took advantage of Coors Field by going deep in each of the last two days and is now up to nine home runs on the year. All nine of his home runs have come since April 21. Only Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton have hit more in the same timespan. That’s some pretty decent company.

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.