All-Star rosters expand to 33 players
NL and AL will each carry a 13th pitcher on staffs
Major League Baseball moved on Wednesday to alleviate a nagging problem, expanding All-Star rosters for the July 14 game in St. Louis to include one more pitcher, for a total of 33 players on each squad.The roster expansion comes on the heels of last year's 15-inning marathon at Yankee Stadium, won 4-3 by the American League, when both squads used up all available players. Only the Giants' Tim Lincecum did not play, but he was ill.
Commissioner Bud Selig said after that marathon game it would have been played to its conclusion no matter what, but he also said MLB would study some roster adjustments.
"That's exactly right," Selig told MLB.com when reached via telephone on Wednesday at his office in Milwaukee. "It's an adjustment. It's something I'm very happy about. It gives each team a little extra protection, which is good. It's a very constructive move. This is what we wanted to do and we did it."It's the second time this decade that All-Star rosters have been expanded, following the bump from 30 to 32 players for the 2003 Midsummer Classic. That was in the wake of the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, which ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings when the National League ran out of pitchers. At the same time back then, MLB and the Players Association agreed that the winning league in the All-Star Game would have home-field advantage in the World Series. The AL has won every All-Star Game since then, and has had home-field advantage in the World Series since 2002. Once again, the union had to sign off this year on adding an additional player to the roster. "And they were fine with it," Selig said. "This is a cushion. That's what I like about it. It gives us added protection. It's good for all parties involved. And another couple of players get to make the rosters." There have only been 11 extra-inning games in All-Star history, dating back to the first game in 1933, but two of them have come during the past eight years, at a time when managers prefer to use most of their players. Up until the mid-1990s, it was not uncommon for many players to be held out as the starters played deep into games. Last year's contest matched the NL's 2-1 victory in 15 innings at Anaheim in 1967 as the longest game in All-Star history, but the AL used only five pitchers in that '67 game. Last year, the AL used all 12 of its pitchers. The change in managerial philosophy has led to the shortage of pitchers in lengthy games. The 13th pitcher will be among the choices made by both All-Star managers: Charlie Manuel of the World Series-champion Phillies and Joe Maddon of the defending American League-champion Rays. And it is indeed welcome. "I think it's good," said Manuel. "We're going to need the pitcher. Pitching [in the All-Star Game] has been a problem for 10 years, probably. But also it depends on who pitches on Sunday and who we can use. All those things come into play." Those selections are made after the fan voting for eight starters for the NL and AL, and following a player ballot to determine eight reserve position players and eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers) for each roster. Eight selections, including the 13th pitcher, then will be made by the managers. In-stadium voting has ended, but fans can still vote online for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Pepsi on TBS on Sunday. The 33rd player on each roster then will be determined by the fans as the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote on MLB.com takes place in the four days after rosters are announced. And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com. The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, The Grind. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.