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Shark's desired rule change? No more extras

Right-hander acknowledges his proposal is too radical for most
@mi_guardado
March 15, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Gott knew he was coming into a high-leverage situation when manager Bruce Bochy summoned him to pitch against the Angels with the game tied, 5-5, in the top of the ninth inning on Friday. But the stakes turned out to be even higher than he thought.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Gott knew he was coming into a high-leverage situation when manager Bruce Bochy summoned him to pitch against the Angels with the game tied, 5-5, in the top of the ninth inning on Friday. But the stakes turned out to be even higher than he thought.

Upon reaching the mound, Gott was surprised to see Angels third baseman Jhoan Urena take second base to start the inning.

“I turned around, and I asked the umpire, 'Is he supposed to be there?'” Gott said. “And he said, 'Yeah,' but he looked like he was kind of joking, so I was like, 'For real?'”

It turns out that Bochy had forgotten to tell his players that Major League Baseball had begun experimenting with a new rule that allows teams to place a runner on second base to start the ninth inning of a tied Spring Training game. Both sides must agree to the arrangement, which aims to facilitate scoring and prevent tie games in exhibition play.

The concept wasn't unfamiliar to Gott, who experienced the rule while pitching for Triple-A Syracuse last year. Extra innings begin with a runner on second base at all levels of the Minors.

“It definitely makes it a lot tougher,” Gott said. “You change how you approach the batter at the plate, 100 percent.”

Gott managed to strand the runner by striking out Bo Way and Ty Kelly and inducing a flyout from Torii Hunter Jr. The 26-year-old right-hander has not allowed a run in 6 2/3 Cactus League innings and is making a push for a bullpen job this spring.

“He's throwing the ball well, hasn’t he?” Bochy said. “Tough situation to get in, but he can get a strikeout for you. He's got experience. He's got good stuff. It's been a good spring for him. He gives you some versatility, the fact that he can go multiple innings.”

Alen Hanson took second base to start the bottom of the ninth, but the Giants, too, were unable to capitalize. Drew Ferguson squared up to bunt, but he couldn’t get one down and struck out swinging. Mike Gerber and Pablo Sandoval subsequently flied out, ending the game in a tie.

“For here, it's OK,” Bochy said. “I wouldn't want to see it during the season. It's all right for here. It's a little different. I'm not sure everybody knew what was going on.”

Earlier in the game, right-hander Jeff Samardzija had proposed his own radical rule change: Eliminate extra innings altogether.

“I just think you can change to a point system,” Samardzija said. “I don't think we need to play extra-inning games. You want to keep the game times down. Just end them in a tie. Everyone gets one point like in the Premier League. Winning gets three points and just end it at nine. We're playing 162 games. Over that course of games, you should be able to tell who the best team is. It makes the ninth inning exciting all the time.

“And really, who wants to go out there and play 15 innings? The relievers don't want it. The position players don’t want it. The managers don't want it because then they got to move rosters around the next day. Obviously, every game is important now with the extra Wild Card. I just think it keeps every game important again and just kind of eliminates some innings that a lot of guys don't really want to play. But again, that’s a little wild for people, I think.”

Bochy, for his part, disagreed with Samardzija's suggestion.

“I think some of the greatest games have been extra-inning games,” Bochy said. “Epic games. That's, I think, part of baseball. I'm not into the tie deal. I want to play until we finish it.”

Shark on the mound
Samardzija became the first Giants pitcher to reach the sixth inning this spring, yielding three runs on five hits over five-plus innings against the Angels on Friday. After dealing with a nagging shoulder injury last year, the 34-year-old veteran has looked healthy and free of setbacks thus far.

“They're going as good as they could probably go,” Samardzija said of his outings. “We're getting stronger. I'm just really excited to get to that 100-pitch mark. When you get to that threshold and your body knows how to repeat at that level, you're not breaking new ground and you can kind of go from there. I'm excited to get a couple more starts under my belt and go from there. I like how everything is coming out, making the adjustments out there. It feels good.”

Up next
Left-hander Andrew Suárez will start on Saturday when the Giants host the Padres at 1:05 p.m. PT at Scottsdale Stadium. Right-hander Cal Quantrill is scheduled to pitch for San Diego.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.