Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa admitted after Wednesday’s loss to the Cincinnati Reds that he was not aware that he was not required to have relief pitcher Liam Hendriks run in the top of the 10th inning.
The game went into extra innings with a 0-0 score on the board, only the fourth time that has happened in the history of Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. In the top of the ninth inning, White Sox outfielder Andrew Vaughn had recorded the final out, meaning that his spot in the order would be the one that would be required to run to start the top of the 10th inning.
Instead, Vaughn was lifted from the game with two outs as part of a double-switch by La Russa, who inserted Hendriks into the game for the final out of that inning.
In extra innings, teams automatically start with a runner on second base. That runner is whichever player made the final out in the previous inning, and in this instance, Hendriks was technically in the batting order spot where that runner would come from.
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According to MLB rules issued this spring however, La Russa could have had José Abreu, who recorded the second out in the inning, run instead of Hendriks.
The Athletic’s James Fegan highlights the specific text of the rule:
“If the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s lead-off hitter is the pitcher, the runner placed on second base may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order,” the rule reads.
The decision potentially cost the White Sox a chance at scoring a run, as Leury García was thrown out trying to steal second base with one out in the inning. On the throw down to second, Hendriks was unable to try to advance home, and Billy Hamilton was ultimately retired to end the inning.
After the game, Fegan asked La Russa about the play, and the manager said that he was not aware of the rule change that would have allowed Abreu to run instead of Hendriks.
“I’m guess you know the rules better. Now I know,” La Russa told reporters.
The White Sox ultimately lost in extra innings, splitting the two-game series with the Reds.