No pitch clock, shift limits for World Baseball Classic

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NEW YORK – Major League Baseball’s new pitch clock, limits on shifts and larger bases will not be used during the World Baseball Classic.

The three innovations will be debuted during the spring training exhibition season that starts Feb. 24. The 20-team national team tournament runs from March 8-21, and players will return to their clubs for more exhibition games with the new rules ahead of opening day on March 30.

“There’s going to be an adjustment and learning curve to those, so for the actual quality of baseball in the WBC, it’s probably better that they didn’t spring that on us in important games,” St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said Tuesday during an online availability. “If something happened in an elimination game that we weren’t prepared for, that could have a negative effect. We’re going to need a learning curve with those and we won’t get it for a few weeks, but we’ll work on it in spring training and other times.”

This will be the fifth edition of the WBC following victories by Japan in 2006 and ’09, the Dominican Republic in 2013 and the U.S. in 2017. A scheduled 2021 tournament was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Goldschmidt was 1 for 13 (.077) for the U.S. in 2017, and Arenado went 5 for 31 (.161) with a three-run homer against Canada’s Andrew Albers in the first round.

“I feel like the hype is a little bit higher this time around than it was in 2017. There’s more guys that want to do it,” Arenado said. “I know it’s not the World Cup, but just watching the World Cup and how awesome that was just to represent your country … I don’t know if it will get quite there, but get it close at least.”

Arenado agreed with the decision to not have the new rules in this year’s tournament.

“Maybe the next WBC, when everyone’s kind of used to it already, you do it,” he said.

Pitch limits again will be used.

A pitcher is limited to 65 pitches during a first-round game, 80 in a quarterfinal and 95 in the championship round, though a limit can be exceeded to finish a plate appearance. A pitcher may not pitch in games on three consecutive days. There must be one day off after throwing 30 or more pitches and two days off after throwing 50 or more pitches.

Designated hitters, the three-batter minimum and video review will be used, but the limit on mound visits will not.

Thirty-man rosters were due from teams on Tuesday and will be announced Thursday. Each team must include at least 14 pitchers and two catchers, including 10 pitchers eligible to pitch in consecutive rounds.

Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN on opening day

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Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.

Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.

“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”

Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.

Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.

“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.

Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.