NEW YORK (— Starting extra innings with a runner on second base during the regular season was made a permanent rules change by Major League Baseball on Monday after three seasons of use during the coronavirus pandemic.
Known by some as the “Ghost Runner” and by others as the “Manfred Man” after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the rule was unanimously adopted by the sport’s 11-person competition committee.
Use of position players as pitchers also was tightened by the committee. They will be limited to extra innings, when a player’s team is losing by eight or more runs or is winning by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning. Last year, a position player could pitch only in extra innings or if his team was losing or winning by six or more runs.
The joint competition committee, established in the lockout settlement last March, includes six management officials, four union representatives and one umpire.
There were 216 extra-inning games last year, down from 233 in 2021 and 78 during the shortened 2020 season. The longest last year was Cleveland’s 7-6, 15-inning win over Minnesota in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 17. That was one inning shy of the longest in the three seasons of the rule, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 16-inning win at San Diego on Aug. 25, 2021.
Home teams went 113-103 in extra-inning games last year and are 262-263 in extra innings since the runner on second rule started in 2020, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Home teams were 312-294 in extra-inning games from 2017-19, Elias said.
The rule was adopted as a pandemic measure for the 2020 season and appears likely to stay.
“Clubs have gotten used to the extra-innings rule,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners’ meeting. “I think it’s generally well-liked by players.”
The finalized rule came just as Spring training opened Monday in Florida and Arizona. There will also be a lot of other changes this year, like pitch clocks, limits on defensive shifts and larger bases.
Players are also reporting early ahead of the World Baseball Classic.
Nationals owner dies at 97
Longtime Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner has died at the age of 97. A Nationals spokesperson says Lerner died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
The Lerners bought the team from Major League Baseball in 2006 for $450 million. Ted Lerner was managing principal owner until ceding that role to son Mark in 2018.
Under the Lerners’ ownership, the Nationals went from one of baseball’s worst teams in their first several seasons after moving from Montreal to Washington to World Series champions in 2019.
A Washington-area native, Lerner built his fortune through real estate.
Cortes out of WBC with injury
New York Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes will miss next month’s World Baseball Classic due to a strained right hamstring but hasn’t ruled out being ready for the start of the regular season. Colorado left-hander Kyle Freeland replaced Cortes on the United States roster.
Cortes said the injury is a low grade two strain and there is no timeframe right now but he will be shutdown at least a couple weeks.
Cortes first felt a tweak a week ago while running sprints at home. Cortes went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 28 starts during an All-Star season last year.
Jeter joining Fox Sports
Derek Jeter will be part of Fox Sports’ MLB studio coverage for the coming season. Fox Sports made the announcement during its Super Bowl pregame show.
Former teammate Alex Rodriguez hugged Jeter as he came on stage and presented him with a Fox Sports baseball jersey.
Jeter also joins fellow Hall of Famer David Ortiz and host Kevin Burkhardt as part of the studio team.
Darvish will get $30M this season
Yu Darvish will receive $30 million this year in salary and signing bonus as part of a new $108 million, six-year contract with the San Diego Padres.
The agreement replaced the final season of a $126 million, six-year contract that was due to pay the 36-year-old right-hander $18 million this season.
Darvish geta a $6 million signing bonus and salaries of $24 million this year, $15 million in 2024, $20 million in 2025, $15 million in 2026 and $14 million each in 2027 and 2028.