Major League Baseball (MLB) is heading for a drastically shortened season. And to cater for it, Toronto Blue Jays bespectacled GM Ross Atkins, 46, has come up with a plan. Play shortened, seven-inning double headers, he has suggested.
The MLB season was original set to begin today (March 26), but has had to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic still raging in the US. It has already been decided that it cannot now start until May at best.
At this stage nobody can be sure of when it will when be safe to play ball again. Some like President Trump hope the pandemic will be over in the US by Easter. But others like New York governor Andrew Cuomo expect it to last much longer than that.
Nine into 10 won’t go they say. Atkins, however, has suggested he may have a solution to the schedule problem
Atkins floated his idea at Wednesday conference
In a conference call on Wednesday, he floated the possibility of staging shortened seven-inning doubleheaders as a way of maximizing the numbers of games in a shortened season still without a definite starting date.
He said this practice is routinely used in the minor leagues where he spent five years as a pitcher. This was with the Cleveland Indians’ organization before he joined the team’s front office.
“Maybe this is something we have to consider,” he said. “If you’re playing doubleheaders, and suppose they are nine innings each, the demands on a pitching staff would be extremely heavy.”
Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black previously acknowledged the likelihood of adding doubleheaders to a condensed schedule and said he would be open to such a plan.
Seven-inning games not in rule books
While Atkins sees holding seven-inning doubleheaders as something that’s feasible, he stopped short of giving it his full-blown support
“You’re not playing the game that is written in the rulebooks,” he said.
“It’s not the regulation game, it’s a different game. Bullpens and teams are built in a way to play nine innings. I’m sure there are people that would challenge it.
“What we need to do is get ideas out (like this one) where people feel safe mentioning them. They can then work through what’s practical, what makes sense; what are the downsides.
“There’s going to be downside. So we must try to weigh them up appropriately.”
Aaron Judge would not have been ready
Meantime, Aaron Judge is one man who’ll likely be happy the baseball season has been postponed.
The injured New York slugger would not have been ready for the original scheduled start today. He is still recovering from a rib stress fracture.
It is believed he suffered it when making a spectacular diving catch in the right field last season. He is also thought to have suffered a collapsed lung during the same catch, but he has recovered from that injury.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday that his 27-year-old two-time All-Star right fielder was still in the recovery process and would only be re-evaluated in the weeks ahead.
“Aaron is still in the healing phase”
He said: ”Aaron is still in the healing phase of that that rib bone, and I think he’ll be re-evaluated again in a few weeks. ‘He’s been able to work out doing a lot of lower-body stuff and some upper-body stuff.
Judge, has struggled with injuries since being named the American League Rookie of the Year in 2017 when he hit .284 with 52 home runs and 114 RBIs in 155 games.
He was limited to 112 regular-season games in 2018 and 102 last season. However, he has combined to bat .276 with 54 home runs and 122 RBIs in those 214 games over the past two seasons.