WASHINGTON — Major League Baseball plans to try out a rule change which would put a runner on second base at the start of extra innings, Yahoo Sports reports.
This would represent a fundamental change to how games can be completed, and seemingly is aimed at catalyzing offense at a point which often arrives for a lack of production.
According to Yahoo, the rule change will be implemented on a trial basis at the lowest levels of the minor leagues — the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Arizona League — where baseball first implemented its sweeping pace of play rules you see at the Major League level today. A derivation of the rule has been used in international baseball for nearly a decade, Yahoo notes, and will also be incorporated into the World Baseball Classic this spring.
“What really initiated it is sitting in the dugout in the 15th inning and realizing everybody is going to the plate trying to hit a home run and everyone is trying to end the game themselves,” said Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer and former manager. “I don’t know what inning is the right inning. Maybe the 11th or 12th inning. But there are a number of reasons.”
Although, Yahoo notes, baseball has yet to strictly define the terms of the rule, the current objective is for each extra inning to begin with a runner on second base. Translation: Bunting has returned.
“Let’s see what it looks like,” Torre said of the rule change. “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”