Pirates add Joe Blanton from Royals

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Just when you thought the trade deadline couldn’t possibly get any more exciting, the Pirates trumped every other move Wednesday night, landing Joe Blanton in a deal with the Royals.

Cash considerations were the reported return for Kansas City. Blanton had just been DFA’d to make room for Johnny Cueto on the roster.

Blanton had a 3.89 ERA and a 40/7 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings for the Royals, making four starts and 11 relief appearances. The 34-year-old former 16-game winner announced his retirement in 2014 before coming back this year.

The Pirates likely will use Blanton out of the pen and hope that their big ballpark can keep his home run totals down. He could always start if needed, but Vance Worley is ahead of him in line should anything open up.

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.