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Brad Boxberger out as D-Backs’ closer

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MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports that Brad Boxberger is no longer the Diamondbacks’ primary closer. Going forward, manager Torey Lovullo will close out games based on matchups.

Boxberger, 30, has struggled recently. He blew Sunday’s save chance against the Braves, yielding three runs while recording only one out. He has given up runs in three of four appearances to start the month of September, causing his ERA to balloon to 4.41.

Boxberger had been solid prior to September, ending August with a 3.45 ERA, 31 saves in 37 chances, and a 67/24 K/BB ratio in 47 innings.

Yoshihisa Hirano, Brad Ziegler, Archie Bradley, and Andrew Chafin could all see some save opportunities down the stretch. The D-Backs entered Monday’s action 2.5 games out of first place in the NL West and three games out of the second Wild Card slot, so this change will certainly have an impact on whether or not the D-Backs reach the postseason and in what fashion.

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.