Why Cubs plan to stick to 7-inning rule for spring games originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Of all the adjustments teams are making this spring training as part of their COVID-19 safety protocols, the most conspicuous one starts now as the game schedules begin.
Quick word of advice: Don’t wait until the seventh inning to leave the broadcast to get a sandwich or take a bathroom break. The game might be done before you get back.
Through March 13, games are scheduled for just seven innings this spring, with the exception of nationally broadcast games (nine innings) — or unless both managers agree before the game to either play a full nine or even shorten the seven to five.
After March 14, standard nine-inning rules are back in play, with managers having the mutual discretion of shortening to seven.
The new rules, which also for the first two weeks allow managers to end innings short of three outs and allow re-entry of pitchers, were implemented in large part because the starts of minor-league camps have been delayed, eliminating the usual pool of minor-league pitchers clubs often invite to games as emergency extras.
For now, the Cubs expect to work their pitching plans around the seven-inning new norm.
“We had different conversations with different organizations,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I think there’s some organizations that feel like they want to push it to nine, and some organizations that we’ve talked to feel like they’re going to have trouble finding [enough for] five. It all depends on pitching and strategy and what teams are doing with their pitching.”
“For us, we do have a TV game early on in spring that we’ll have to go nine,” he said. “the rest of ours for now we’re going to stick to seven just for numbers reasons and health reasons and a lot of things we’ve identified about how we’re going to run our camp.
The Cubs open their Cactus League schedule Monday at 2:05 p.m. against the San Diego Padres (Kyle Hendricks starting for the Cubs). Tuesday's 2:05 p.m. game against the Royals is the first of the Cubs' televised spring games (Marquee Network). Rookie Adbert Alzolay is scheduled to start that game for the Cubs.
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