Brian Matusz’s back injury puts Opening Day status in doubt

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Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz has been diagnosed with a serratus strain–which is basically a lower back injury–and manager Buck Showalter told reporters that the reliever would be headed to the disabled list if this were the regular season.

Luckily for Matusz the regular season doesn’t begin for a month, although clearly his status for Opening Day is very much in doubt.

After struggling as a starter early in his career Matusz has been a key contributor to the Orioles’ bullpen since making the full-time switch to relief work in 2013, logging 152 innings with a 3.32 ERA and 159/53 K/BB ratio. Eligible for free agency after this season and making $3.9 million, the former No. 4 overall pick had been slated for a middle relief role.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.