Scott Kazmir cleared to return to A’s rotation Friday

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Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir had to make an early exit from a start last Wednesday against the Tigers after experiencing tightness in his throwing shoulder, but he made it through a 30-pitch bullpen session Sunday without issue and said he felt “great” after a followup throwing session Tuesday.

MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that Kazmir has been cleared to return to the A’s starting rotation this Friday night for the opening of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park. There will be no pitch count, though the A’s trainers are sure to watch him closely considering his littered history of arm injuries and the value he gives Oakland as a (healthy) trade chip.

Kazmir, 31, has a 2.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 57/25 K/BB ratio through 58 1/3 innings this season for the last-place A’s, who entered play Tuesday with a disappointing 20-33 record. Kazmir is in the final year of a two-year, $22 million contract.

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.