Justin Verlander goes five innings in his 2015 season debut

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Tigers starter Justin Verlander made his 2015 season debut for the Tigers on Saturday, pitching five effective innings against the Indians in a 5-4 loss. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two. One of the runs came in the fourth on Carlos Santana’s solo home run, and the other came in the fifth on a Jason Kipnis sacrifice fly.

Verlander threw 87 pitches overall, 55 for strikes. He sat mostly 92-94 MPH with his fastball, but was able to ramp it up to 97 MPH even in his final inning.

Verlander, 32, was shelved late in spring training due to a strained right triceps, forcing him to go onto the disabled list for the first time in his 11-year career. He struggled last season, finishing with an ugly 4.54 ERA and a 159/65 K/BB ratio over 206 innings.

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.