Michael Morse diagnosed with bruised elbow after HBP

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Nationals first baseman Mike Morse was forced from a game Thursday at Wrigley Field after getting struck in the left arm by a Ryan Dempster pitch.

Morse doubled over in pain once he reached first base and held his arm carefully against his body as trainers escorted him off the field. It looked as though he might have suffered a fracture of some kind. But all of the early tests have yielded good news.

According to beat writer Bill Ladson of MLB.com, X-rays taken Thursday evening at a Chicago area hospital showed no breaks. Morse has been diagnosed with a left elbow contusion and is being called day-to-day.

Morse, 29, has posted a .319/.369/.554 slash line, 20 home runs and 68 RBI in 106 games this season.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.