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One of MLB’s Atlantic League experiments is likely never going to happen


Back in February we learned that Major League Baseball had entered into an agreement with the independent Atlantic League in which the former would use the latter as a lab to test new rules, equipment and technology. That has happened to some extent, with rules regarding defensive shifts and some rudimentary robot umpiring getting some testing during the season.

One of the more eyebrow-raising proposals was the idea to move the pitching rubber back 24 inches in an effort to handicap today’s breed of increasingly high-velocity hitters and to cut down on strikeouts. Well, put your eyebrow back down, because that looks like it’s not gonna happen. From Lancaster Online:

In a phone interview in June, however, Atlantic League President Rick White said Major League Baseball had decided to push the change back for consideration at the beginning of next season.

At the Atlantic League All-Star Game in July, White said there was doubt whether Major League Baseball would decide to adopt that change at all.

Players, coaches and executives alike, from within the Atlantic League and outside of it, had expressed concern over the proposed rule.

“I think you might have seen a lot of the older guys probably not pitch here,” Sugar Land Skeeters manager Pete Incaviglia said then. “I think you’d probably see a lot of them go to the American Association or Mexico or wherever, just because they’ve been doing it that way.”

In addition to the concern that players won’t want to come to the Atlantic League, you have to wonder whether injury concerns played a part. If you spend your whole life throwing from 60’6″, you have to figure that doing it from 62’6″ is going to change your mechanics and effort level and psychological approach as well. To me that’s not worth the couple of upticks in opposing batting average that idea was aimed at addressing.

If you want to cut down on strikeouts and/or increase the numbers of balls in play, alter the strike zone to take away the 97 m.p.h. fastball at the shins that no one can do a thing with anyway and call it a ball, forcing pitchers to work up, inside and outside more. I assure you, you’ll see more balls in play then.

Indians to activate José Ramírez tomorrow

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Indians slugger José Ramírez broke the hamate bone on his right hand last month and had surgery on August 26 to repair it. At the time he was given the same schedule most hamate bone surgery recipients get: 5-7 weeks if all goes well. Apparently all has gone better-than-well for Ramírez, however, because the Indians are going to activate him tomorrow.

That’s good news for the Indians, who are in a dead heat with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL’s second Wild Card with six games to go.

Ramírez, like his team, started the season slowly, but he had turned things on in July and August to help fuel Cleveland’s surge into playoff contention. He hit .320/.340/.680 with nine homers and 25 driven in in July and was hitting .321/.372/.705 with six homers and 20 driven in August when he went down. Basically, he had been a better version of the Ramírez who won the Silver Slugger Award and came in third in the MVP balloting in 2018, at least for those two months.

It’ll be interesting to see how rusty he is or if the surgery has sapped his power or bat speed. We’ll only have six games in which to see it, though.