CLEVELAND  — We’ve seen Reggie hit the light tower, Pete Rose crush a catcher to score the winning run and a tribute to Ted Williams that sent shivers through Fenway Park.

But come the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, baseball fans might witness something they’ve never seen before.

Automatic runners.

Already employed in the minors, the World Baseball Classic and Olympic softball, a new rule will take effect in front of a major league audience: Every extra inning in All-Star play – top half and bottom – begins with a free runner at second base.

“They’re doing that? Really?” Houston reliever Ryan Pressly asked Monday. “I did not know that.”

The crowd at Progressive Field got a glimpse of the future, maybe, on Sunday night when the Futures Game tried the rule for an inning. No one scored, and the showcase for young talent wound up in a tie.


Jeff McNeil, the top hitter in the majors this year, saw the scenario a lot last season in Triple-A. There, the goal is to shorten games and save wear and tear on pitching staffs.

“Kind of weird,” McNeil observed.

Still, it could be real timely. The last two All-Star Games both went extras – Robinson Cano hit a leadoff homer in the 10th at Miami in 2017, Alex Bregman did the same last year in Washington.

Plus, there was the 15-inning affair at Yankee Stadium in 2008 and the dreaded 2002 game in Milwaukee that was declared a very unpopular tie after the 11th.

YANKEES: Even though he’s not on the roster, CC Sabathia was looming large around Progressive Field.

The 38-year-old Yankees pitcher is playing his final season. He was invited by Major League Baseball to take part in this week’s festivities, and was set to be honored for his contributions on and off the field.


“I’m just having a good time, being a fake All-Star here,” he said, laughing. “When the Yankees asked me to announce my retirement, I was like, ‘Announce what? I’m not Derek Jeter. No one will care.’ But this whole deal has been pretty cool.”

Sabathia began his big league career in Cleveland and stayed in town until being traded to Milwaukee during the 2008 season. He still maintains close connections to the city.

The lefty is 5-4 with a 4.03 ERA this season. Overall, the six-time All-Star has 251 wins and 3,057 strikeouts.

“I’m on my way out, I only have three more months, but as a fan, I love offense. There is definitely something different about the baseball, but as I said, I love offense,” he said.

INDIANS: Looking Cleveland summer chic, Carlos Santana strutted into the convention center’s massive ballroom fashionably late.

The first baseman’s delayed entrance came long after Mike Trout, Francisco Lindor, J.D. Martinez and all the other American League players went to their assigned media interview platforms.


Wearing stylish, dark sunglasses indoors, the Indians slugger had the relaxed appearance of a seasoned, multi-time All-Star.

Don’t be fooled.

He’s one of 36 All-Star rookies in this year’s event.

Santana’s selection as a starter is the latest chapter in his storybook homecoming to Cleveland, where he played eight seasons before signing as a free agent in 2017 with Philadelphia.

But a trade in December returned him to the Indians, who can’t imagine where they’d be this season without him.


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