Ervin Santana throws seven innings in latest tuneup start in minors

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Ervin Santana is still serving out his 80-game PED suspension, but he’s permitted to pitch in the minors in preparation for joining the Twins on July 5 against the Royals. After a strong performance in his first start with Triple-A Rochester last Saturday, the veteran right-hander had his second start tonight:

Santana has allowed four runs in 12 2/3 innings with a 6/4 K/BB ratio over his first two outings. He will make one more tuneup start in the minors before his Twins debut.

After posting a 3.95 ERA over 31 starts with the Braves last season, Santana received a franchise record four-year, $55 million free agent contract from Minnesota over the winter. It’s been a long wait, but the surprising Twins (39-33) are hoping to get some bang for their buck over the final three months of the season.

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.