NEW YORK — The hitting team will be halfway home already if any games in the World Baseball Classic reach the 11th inning.
Organizers announced a few rules changes Tuesday for next month’s tournament, and one was designed to expedite an ending to games that last more than 10 innings. Starting with the 11th, each inning would begin with runners on first and second base. The runners will be the players occupying the previous two slots in the batting order before the hitter leading off the inning.
In another change, teams will be able to designate 10 pitchers eligible to throw in one or more consecutive rounds. Teams must use one or two pitchers from the 10-man group on each roster or else give up the right to use the pool. Pool pitchers placed on a roster and later removed are ineligible for the rest of the tournament.
During the first and second rounds, video review will be used to assist umpires only for boundary calls involving potential home runs, including fair or foul calls and determining whether fly balls clear the fence or are interfered with by a fan. Major League Baseball’s regular replay rules will be used in the championship round.
RED SOX: Boston signed two players to minor league contracts, outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Quentin and infielder Mike Olt.
Quentin, 34, failed to make the roster with Minnesota last year and this could be the last shot for the slugger to reach the majors.
Olt, 28, is primarily a third baseman with experience at first base and has played in 135 major league games with three teams, none since 2015.
ROYALS: Jason Hammel knows he wouldn’t be in Kansas City if tragedy had not struck the organization.
The 34-year-old right-hander made that clear right from the start.
“I feel like I need to express my condolences to Royals Nation and the Ventura family,” he said, referring to the fatal car crash that claimed pitcher Yordano Ventura in his native Dominican Republic last month. “I truly feel if that unfortunate passing doesn’t happen, you’re not talking to me.”
Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said that was precisely the case.
“Obviously we weren’t in the starting pitcher market,” he explained during a news conference to introduce his new pitcher Wednesday, “although we’d been an admirer of Jason for a while and knew he was an option out there. We were very surprised, truthfully, that he remained on the market as well. Once we got over the shock of Yordano, you have to move forward.
“We have a baseball season to play, a team we’re responsible for, players we’re committed to and a fan base we’re responsible for as well,” Moore added. “So our scouts to a man, our entire front office, said, ‘There’s one guy out there that really makes us better.’ ”
Hammel will make $5 million this season, $9 million next season and the deal includes a $12 million mutual option for the 2019 season with a $2 million buyout.
REDS: Starter Homer Bailey had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow Wednesday and is expected to be on the disabled list at the start of the season. He is expected to resume throwing in 4 to 6 weeks.
MARLINS: Miami pitcher David Phelps has asked an arbitration panel for a raise from $2.5 million to $4.6 million.
The team argued during Wednesday’s hearing that he should be paid $4,325,000. A decision is expected Thursday.
ATHLETICS: Right-hander Daniel Mengden had right foot surgery in Houston after breaking a bone during a bullpen session at home Jan. 31.
He is expected to wear a walking boot for six weeks and a return date is not known.
TRADE: Tampa Bay acquired catcher Jesus Sucre from Seattle for a player to be named or cash.
Sucre appeared in 90 games over four seasons with the Mariners, batting .209 with two homers and 20 RBI.
TWINS: Outfielder Drew Stubbs agreed to a minor league deal and will report to big league spring training.