Japanese leagues to play spring training games in empty ballparks over coronavirus fears

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Nippon Professional Baseball — the Japanese major league — announced on Wednesday that it will hold all of its remaining spring training games in empty ballparks due to fears that fans might spread the coronavirus. The following day the Korean Baseball Organization went even further, cancelling the remainder of the KBO League’s spring training games in their entirety over coronavirus fears.

NPB’s regular season opens on March 20. The league is in wait-and-see mode regarding whether the regular season will be similarly impacted. The KBO League regular season is set to begin on March 28. The KBO will hold an emergency meeting of its executive committee next Tuesday to discuss potential changes to the regular season schedule. Yesterday Japan closed schools across the country due to the outbreak. It’s Rugby Union league recently cancelled over a dozen matches.

The 2020 regular season of both leagues was already scheduled to be halted during the summer for Olympics, which takes place in Tokyo. Yesterday, by the way, the organizers of the Olympic games pushed back on what they called mere “speculation” that the coronavirus epidemic could lead to their cancellation.

So yeah, things are going sideways out there right now. Please keep your head. And please wash your hands.

Orioles option LHP Bruce Zimmermann to minors

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SARASOTA, Fla. – The Baltimore Orioles have optioned left-handers Bruce Zimmermann and Nick Vespi and reassigned infielder Lewin Díaz, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez and catcher Mark Kolozsvary to minor league camp.

The Orioles announced the moves Monday.

Baltimore’s spring training roster now has 46 players.

Zimmermann made 13 starts last season. He went 2-5 with a 5.99 ERA.

The competition for rotation spots with the Orioles has been a significant story during spring training, but after the team acquired Cole Irvin and Kyle Gibson in the offseason – and with top prospect Grayson Rodriguez in the mix as well – there were a lot of pitchers Zimmermann needed to beat out.