Steven Brault
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Pirates shut down Steven Brault due to left shoulder strain

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Pitcher Steven Brault has been shut down from throwing due to a left shoulder muscle strain, the Pirates announced on Monday. Brault will be reassessed in two weeks. He’ll almost certainly begin the season on the injured list.

Brault, 27, was solid at times for the Pirates last year, but finished with an ugly 5.16 ERA. He struck out 100 and walked 53 over 113 1/3 innings.

Derek Holland‘s chances of making the Opening Day roster have risen as a result of Brault’s injury. Holland joined the club on a minor league deal just over a month ago.

Brault may not be available to pitch for a little while, but he can still be booked to sing the national anthem, right?

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.