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No beginning in sight for Japan’s baseball season

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We’ve been keeping track of baseball news from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan because those countries were affected by COVID-19 earlier than we were and thus, presumably, their roadmap-back-to-baseball might be instructive for what happens here.

They’re playing in Taiwan already. We learned over the weekend that Korea’s KBO is looking to start play on May 1. Japan, however, is facing a much longer track back: NPB’s commissioner announced on Friday that there is no longer the possibility of the league beginning in May. In fact, they have stopped announcing tentative start dates altogether.

Both leagues — the Pacific and the Central — were scheduled to begin play on March 20. Opening day was then reset for April 10 and then postponed again to April 24. Earlier this month, the teams gave up on fixing a starting time but held out hope for play some time in May.

Japan, after seeing an initial peak and then a decline in COVID-19 cases, has experienced a new surge in cases that threatens to overwhelm its entire medical system. Their overall number of cases and number of fatalities is small compared to many other countries. Experts have noted that a lack of protective equipment, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reluctance to introduce shutdowns and restrictions to deal with the outbreak sooner due to his fear that it might harm the economy — and his political fighting with governors who wanted tougher measures introduced more quickly — have made the situation far worse than it would otherwise have been.

Sound familiar?

There will not be baseball in Japan for some time. I suspect we’ll find the same thing here.

 

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”