Rules changes approved for Classic

Rules changes approved for Classic

The rules for the World Baseball Classic are about to change.

The steering committee of the Classic met and approved several recommendations made by the rules and regulations committee on Thursday that will be in place for the 2009 tournament.

The first change will affect pitch-count limits, upping them to 70 per game in Round 1, 85 per game in Round 2 and 100 per game in the semifinals and final. These totals have increased from the inaugural tournament in 2006, when pitchers were only permitted to throw 65 pitches in Round 1, 80 in Round 2 and 95 in the semifinals and final.

Also, with semifinal games being played on consecutive days, a pitcher rest equalization rule will be implemented to avoid giving an advantage to the team that played first. Any pitcher who throws 30 or more pitches in the semifinals will not be eligible to pitch in the final.

In addition to those two new rules, the Major League Baseball rule on video replay will be adopted, allowing a review by umpires for certain "boundary" calls, such as home runs over the fence, fair/foul home run calls or fan interference on home run calls.

Also, the 2009 World Baseball Classic will require base coaches to wear protective helmets, participating teams will be required to announce the next day's starting pitcher, and the tournament will adopt a variant of the IBAF extra-inning rule, which was used in the 2008 Olympics.

This rule dictates that, starting with the 13th inning, each half-inning will begin with runners on first and second base, with the batting order intact. The applicability of the rule to the championship game of the tournament is under review by the rules and regulations committee.

As it did in the inaugural tournament in 2006, the World Baseball Classic will feature 16 teams: the United States, defending champion Japan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Canada, Mexico, China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, South Africa and Panama.

The Classic will be played from March 5-23 and will be held every four years thereafter, with plans in place to expand the participant field beginning in 2013.

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.