Matt Moore will make his return from Tommy John surgery on Thursday

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Rays manager Kevin Cash recently hinted that Matt Moore was set to make his return from Tommy John surgery this week, but now it’s all but official. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Moore will be activated to start Thursday afternoon against the Indians at Tropicana Field.

Moore, who had Tommy John surgery last April, posted a 2.95 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 innings over five minor league rehab starts between High-A Charlotte and Triple-A Durham. The final step was a 35-pitch bullpen session today, after which the southpaw said that he’s “definitely ready to go.”

Moore, 26, owns a 3.53 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 over 61 starts and two relief appearances in the majors. We could see some ups and downs after surgery, especially given his past control issues, but this is a welcome addition for a rotation that has had to get by without Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly.

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.