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Hit and Run Baseball initiative introduced by MLB

Joint program with USA Baseball focused on engaging youth in gameplay
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball announced "Hit and Run Baseball" on Monday, a program supporting modified forms of the game that enable players to develop their skills in a more interactive format while also promoting player health and safety.

Hit and Run Baseball is part of the Play Ball initiative, and it will serve youth leagues, tournament providers and amateur coaches with recommended game formats that can be easily applied at all levels of youth and amateur baseball. Leagues and coaches can also create their own modified rules to best suit their individual league, tournament or team needs.

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball announced "Hit and Run Baseball" on Monday, a program supporting modified forms of the game that enable players to develop their skills in a more interactive format while also promoting player health and safety.

Hit and Run Baseball is part of the Play Ball initiative, and it will serve youth leagues, tournament providers and amateur coaches with recommended game formats that can be easily applied at all levels of youth and amateur baseball. Leagues and coaches can also create their own modified rules to best suit their individual league, tournament or team needs.

More on Hit and Run Baseball

Coaches, leagues and administrators can find more information about the Hit and Run program at HitandRunBaseball.com.

"Hit and Run Baseball was created as a teaching tool designed to remind baseball participants that playing our game does not require a one-size-fits-all approach," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. "There are many different ways to structure practice, games and tournaments so that players get the most out of their experiences, particularly through crisp pace of play while also limiting pitch count burdens on pitchers."

The main tenets of the Hit and Run Baseball program are:

• Quicker pace-of-play with more game action by reducing the number of pitches per at-bat, increasing the frequency of balls-in-play, and giving teams bonuses for hitting certain pace-of-play goals.

• More engagement with youth players by introducing more diverse game situations, giving players the opportunity to play different defensive positions and providing more opportunities to participate defensively.

• Improved player health and safety by limiting pitch counts, particularly among the youngest age groups.

• More teaching opportunities for coaches to provide immediate feedback to players.

Pilots of the Hit and Run Baseball program have resulted in games being played in a shorter time frame with more plate appearances, more balls in play and pitchers throwing fewer pitches.

"The importance of fun and actionable forms of game modification was identified early on in our strategic plan for growing our sport," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "By creating this platform, we aim to make baseball available to a wider audience of participants by normalizing alternative methods of gameplay and further energizing the experience within the game."

Among the youth and amateur organizations that support Hit and Run Baseball are the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), American Legion, Babe Ruth League, Dixie Youth, Dixie Boys & Majors, Little League International, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF), Ripken Baseball, USA Baseball, NCTB, PONY Baseball and Softball and Perfect Game.

Strategy and adjustments for the program moving forward will be guided by a committee consisting of leadership from throughout the professional and amateur levels of baseball, including Cal Ripken Jr. (Baseball Hall of Famer; MLB special advisor; vice chair of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation), Michael Cuddyer (special assistant of baseball operations for the Minnesota Twins; USA Baseball Sport Development contributor; two-time MLB All-Star; member of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame), Steve Keener (president and CEO, Little League International), Elliot Hopkins (director of sports, sanctioning and students services, National Federation of State High Schools Association), Paul Mainieri (head coach, Louisiana State University Tigers), John Vodenlich (head coach, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks), Josh Bloom (medical director, Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic; head medical team physician of the Carolina Hurricanes and USA Baseball), Kyle Stark (vice president and assistant general manager, Pittsburgh Pirates), Shaun Larkin (coordinator of skill development, Los Angeles Dodgers organization; former Minor League manager and coach; former collegiate and high school coach), Sean Campbell (senior director of sport development, USA Baseball) and David James (vice president of baseball and softball development, Major League Baseball; head of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities).

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.