Boone: Let's talk about the mercy rule

May 20th, 2021

As talk of unwritten rules takes over the baseball world, allow Yankees manager Aaron Boone to offer a solution: How about a mercy rule?

“I know I brought it up with you guys a couple years ago and you guys chuckled at me,” Boone told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “But we don’t have any of these questions if everyone’s fighting to get to that 10 runs by seven innings or something.”

The “questions” Boone was referencing were inspired by a ninth-inning home run hit by White Sox slugger Yermín Mercedes on Monday night. With the White Sox ahead by 11 runs, Mercedes homered off a 3-0 offering from Twins “pitcher” Willians Astudillo (typically a corner infielder), which sparked controversy inside the White Sox clubhouse and around the league.

When Boone was asked to weigh in on the situation, he did so in a measured way: “In the case of the other night, you have a position player on the mound throwing lobs. Do you want [Mercedes] to sit there and take? I really didn’t have an issue with it.

“Had that been a pitcher on the mound in a 10-run game, I might’ve had an issue with it. So there’s a level of sportsmanship that I think absolutely exists and should exist. But I think that game, once a position player is in there pitching, I can’t really fault anyone for anything in that spot.”

Then, unprompted, Boone floated the mercy-rule option, which typically dictates a game is over if a team is up a set number of runs after a set number of innings -- say 10 runs after seven innings, for example.

Could a rule like that help teams navigate the murkiness of unwritten rules? Perhaps.

“I’m still not saying I’m for it; I’m just saying it’s worth discussing, I think, at least,” Boone explained. “Because then you don’t have to worry about, ‘I’m six runs up, am I allowed to steal? Is this gonna make this guy mad?’ No, we’re just playing to get to that point.”

Baseball has been creative in tinkering with tradition amid the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g. universal designated hitter in 2020, adding a runner on second base in extra innings, implementing seven-inning doubleheaders). There’s no way to know what could be next, but it’s clear Boone has an idea or two.

Torres back, Odor celebrating daughter’s birth
As expected, Gleyber Torres was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list prior to Wednesday’s game. What wasn’t expected, though, was Rougned Odor’s absence from the team for the day -- albeit for a great reason.

Odor went on the paternity list after he and his wife welcomed a baby girl in Texas. Odor played the entirety of Tuesday’s game, going 2-for-5 in his return to Arlington, before joining his wife for the birth of their child.

“I spoke to Roogie this morning, but I know he was basically up all night,” Boone said. “He had plans of being here but decided to stay away with the lack of sleep and everything. So they’re celebrating a new baby girl.”

Boone said “everyone’s doing well” and that the team expects Odor to return to the roster on Thursday, which will require a corresponding move since Torres took his spot.

Odds and ends
• Outfielder Clint Frazier, who was out of the Yankees’ lineup for a second consecutive game on Wednesday, is dealing with “some neck things,” Boone said.

“I don’t know if it’s stiffness or what, but we’re kind of looking into all that and what it could be,” said Boone, who noted that Frazier is receiving treatment. Frazier took batting practice on Wednesday and went through his normal pregame routine, but the Yankees are being cautious as they try to understand where the issue is stemming from.

• Catcher Gary Sánchez, who left Tuesday’s game with cramping in his left hamstring, is “good to go” and will be available off the bench, Boone said. Given that Thursday features a day game, Boone had entered the series planning to give Sánchez Wednesday off anyway.

• As for outfielder Aaron Hicks, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, Boone said there have been “no decisions yet” regarding the next steps.