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At the nominal halfway point of the Japanese baseball season, COVID-19 — not Munetaka Murakami or any other star who will be on display during this week’s All-Star Series — is taking center stage.

The seventh wave of infections in Japan is taking a toll on the NPB ranks, sidelining various players and staff members — not even Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Big Boss, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, was immune — and decimating the Yomiuri Giants.

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