Astros “making a strong effort” for Phillies ace Cole Hamels

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported Monday night that the Astros are legitimate suitors for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, and now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is hearing much of the same

Houston looks like a safe bet to contend for a long time, so there should be some attraction there.

Hamels, who is under contract on a relatively good deal through 2019, owns a 3.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 137/39 K/BB ratio in 128 2/3 innings this season for the 37-63, last-place Phillies. He’s coming off a no-hitter Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the first of the 31-year-old’s illustrious major league career.

Hamels would join Dallas Keuchel and Scott Kazmir in an excellent, postseason-ready Astros rotation.

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.