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Madison Bumgarner returns for Giants

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It’s MadBum time.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner will make his first start of the season for the San Francisco Giants tonight, taking on Patrick Corbin and the Diamondbacks.

Bumgarner, of course, began the season on the disabled list with a fractured finger on his left hand, suffered when he was hit by a comebacker in a late spring training game. It served to shorten his second straight season, after last year’s campaign was interrupted by a shoulder strain sustained in a dirt bike accident on an off-day in Colorado. That led to him making only 17 starts in 2017.

The Giants have, surprisingly, held their own in Bumgarner’s absence, sitting at .500, only a game and a half behind Arizona. I say surprisingly because Bumgarner has not been the only Giants pitcher to find himself in dry dock this season. Jeff Samardzija got a late start to the season due to a strained pectoral muscle and has continued to battle his own body as the year has gone on. Johnny Cueto isn’t expected back until July at the earliest due to a sprained right elbow. If it wasn’t for every team in the West going through an awful patch at one time or another, the season could already be lost.

But it’s not lost. Not yet. And getting their ace back gives the Giants as good a chance as anyone in the division to shake off the blahs and go on a run.

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.