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Report: MLB to tinker with extra innings

Rule change would put runner at second in GCL, Arizona League in '17

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com

While many Minor League fans enjoy seeing position players pitch when teams run out of hurlers in extra innings, Major League Baseball's newest idea could curtail that.

MLB plans to experiment with putting a runner at second base at some point in extra innings, a test that would begin this season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and Arizona leagues, Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday.

"Let's see what it looks like," MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre told the website. "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.

"It's baseball. I'm just trying to get back to that, where this is the game that people come to watch. It doesn't mean you're going to score. You're just trying to play baseball."

What's sometimes known as the international tiebreaker rule has been used in variations in the Australian Baseball League, the World Baseball Classic and the World Baseball Softball Confederation, which governed Olympic competition. A potential format is to have the batter who made the final out in the previous inning be placed at second base to start the next inning.

Each GCL team is scheduled to play 56 or 60 games -- depending on its division -- and there were 46 extra-inning contests last year. In the AZL, where teams play 56 games, there were 29 contests that went to extra innings.

"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," Torre told Yahoo! Sports. "I don't know what inning is the right inning -- maybe the 11th or 12th inning. But there are a number of reasons."

In 2014, the Arizona Fall League implemented a pitch clock, a rule that was implemented the following season in across Triple-A and Double-A. The proposed extra innings rule could follow that example if it proves successful in Rookie ball.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.