World Baseball Classic adopts MLB rule for extra innings
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- The upcoming World Baseball Classic (WBC) will be played under a new set of rules on extra innings, following the lead set by Major League Baseball (MLB), the tournament organizers announced Tuesday.
From the 10th inning and on, the team at bat will have an automatic runner on second base. The batter leading off that frame would still be the batter who would bat first even without the runner. And the automatic runner will be the player immediately preceding the batter at the plate.
For instance, if the No. 3 hitter in a lineup is due up to lead off the 10th inning, then the No. 2 hitter will be put on second base.
MLB introduced the same rule in 2020, a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, to reduce player exposure to each other and speed up games.
At previous WBCs, teams had runners on first and second base starting with the 11th inning.
Also following an MLB rule adopted in 2020, the WBC will require pitchers to face a minimum three batters in an appearance or pitch to the end of a half-inning, with exceptions granted for injuries and illnesses.
If a pitcher handles just one batter to end an inning, he may be lifted. However, if the same pitcher is brought back for a second inning, then he must face two more batters for a total of three.
The WBC will maintain the same pitch count limits from the previous edition in 2017. Pitchers will be limited to 65 pitches per game in the first round, 80 pitches per game in the quarterfinals, and 95 pitches per game in the semifinals and the final -- unless they need more to complete a plate appearance.
Also, if a pitcher throws 50 or more pitches, he must not pitch until at least four days have passed. If someone tosses at least 30 pitches in a game, then he must have at least one day of break before taking the mound again.
Unlike MLB games, a mercy rule will be in effect at the WBC. A game will be called early if a team leads by 10 or more runs through seven innings, or by 15 or more runs through five innings.
South Korea will be making its fifth consecutive appearance at the tournament in March. It finished third in the inaugural edition in 2006 and then runner-up to Japan three years later. However, South Korea crashed out of the first round in both 2013 and 2017.
South Korea's quest for redemption begins March 9 in a Pool B game against Australia at Tokyo Dome.
South Korea will also face Japan, China and the Czech Republic in the first round. The top two nations after round robin play will advance to the quarterfinals.
Managed by Lee Kang-chul, South Korea's 30-man roster features two major leaguers: Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres and Tommy Edman of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was born to a Korean mother and an American father in Michigan. Left fielder and captain Kim Hyun-soo is one of four former big leaguers for South Korea.
For Pool B teams, all first round and quarterfinals games will take place at Tokyo Dome. The semifinals and the final will be at LoanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins.
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