Nationals may shut down Denard Span after a month of back problems

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Nationals center fielder Denard Span sat out Tuesday’s game with a back injury and afterward admitted that he’s “tried to play through it for the last month.”

Span first had back spasms on June 7 and Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com notes that Tuesday was the eighth time he’s had to either sit out a game or leave a game early since then, so the Nationals may decide he needs a disabled list stint.

It’s a tough decision, because when healthy enough to be in the lineup Span has hit .329 with 13 walks, eight steals, and a .430 on-base percentage during the past month to remain a huge key atop the Nationals’ lineup. And because the outfield is already missing injured left fielder Jayson Werth the Nationals would be patching together the other two spots alongside right fielder Bryce Harper.

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.