PEORIA, Ariz. — In the first inning of Here’s a game of spring training against the Seattle Mariners on Friday. San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado placed his left foot in the batter’s box, tapped his bat on home plate and twirled it around before coming set. He has repeated it many times.
In this instance, however Machado Was out of time. Ryan Blakney (the home plate umpire) stood from his crouch and pointed at Machado and then his left wrist to signal the first pitch clock infraction in Major League Baseball history — albeit one that came in an exhibition game.
Below a set of The new rules are designed to increase the speed of play and stimulate more activity. A 30-second timer will be used between batters. Pitchers now have 15 seconds to get their move started after an at bat has begun. If there’s a runner, it will take 20 seconds.
But batters have their own rules. They must be in the batter’s box and looking at the pitcher with eight seconds left on the clock. Machado He was available with just six seconds left. He was down just one strike before he even saw a pitch or swung the bat.
“That time goes by fast,” Machado He said this after the 3-2 defeat. He joked later, “We’re in the record books at least.”
The practice of spring training is, in fact, a form of preparation. The 2023 regular season begins on March 30, so the next five weeks are not only for pitchers to build up their arm strength and for batters to hone their timing but also for everyone — from umpires to coaches to players — to adjust to some of the biggest single-season rule changes in the sport’s history.
“It’s going to be an interesting year for sure,” Machado said.
M.L.B.’s popularity has grown over the past decades. Over the decades, M.L.B. of Because of this, the average game featured less action. In 2021, an average of three hours and 11 minutes was set as a new record. This is compared to 1976 when the average time for a game was two hours and 29 minutes. M.L.B.’s overall batting average last season was .243, the lowest it has been since 1968, according to Baseball Reference. In recent years, strikeout rates reached record levels.
So as part of the collective bargaining agreement between M.L.B.’s team owners and its players’ union before the 2022 season, the sides agreed to an 11-person committee — which featured players but was controlled by M.L.B. — that tackled rules changes. In 2023 the results were: a pitch clock was added, defensive shifts banned and the overall size increased of These are the base.
“The first weeks of spring training will be an adjustment period, and it’s our intent to change the behavior as quickly as we can,” said Morgan Sword, who oversaw the rule-book tweaks as M.L.B.’s executive vice president of Baseball operations. He and other M.L.B. employees gathered at the Peoria Sports Complex in Phoenix on Friday to watch one. On Friday, he and other M.L.B. executives converged on the Peoria Sport Complex in Phoenix to witness one of The first spring training games.
They expect games to look more like it did in the 1970s and ’80s: more stolen bases, more hits, more athleticism on the field.
“I think you’re going to see a game that moves along with more pace,” M.L.B. Rob Manfred stated. “I think you’re going to see more balls in the play. I think you’re going to look at the field and see players in positions the way that most of us grew up seeing them positioned. I really do think they’re going to see a movement toward the very best form of our game.”
The glimpses were provided by the Padres and Mariners of What might the future hold? Nick Martinez, the Padres’ starting pitcher and a very fast pitcher (he takes more time when runners are on base), delivered all pitches during his innings. Some pitches, however, were delivered in dangerously close proximity to zero.
“I had to speed up,” Martinez spoke after the match. “I thought I was not even going to think about it today, and I was definitely conscious of it.” Later, he added: “There are times where I like to kind of slow the game down so that’ll be interesting. Those happen more in the season because there’s more on the line.”
Martinez stated that he noticed the batters hurrying for their place. Kolten Wong was the Mariners’ second baseman. He stepped out completely when leading the game. of the batter’s box but quickly hopped back in and was ready with one second to spare.
“Guys are going to get a little bit tired working at this pace, whether it’s starters or relievers throwing a lot of pitches,” Bob Melvin is Padres Manager. “There’s going to be an endurance factor to this as well.”
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Robbie Ray said he was ready for the tempo and didn’t feel rushed during his two innings.
“I feel like a couple of times, I took my time getting back to the mound and I thought, ‘Oh, I better speed it up a little bit,’ and I looked up and had 11 seconds on the clock,” Ray said, along with Martinez, that pitchers and catchers use different pitch-calling tools to speed up the process.
The clock had begun to tick down MachadoRay claimed that Ray could hear the umpire telling Machado Do not hurry. Machado Blakney advised him to stop pushing it timingwise when he only had two seconds.
“That is going to speed up guys,” Machado Added later “When you’re hitting, you have to get up there and go. You don’t really have the routine you’ve been doing for 10, 11 years.”
The new rules have been the focal point everywhere in baseball, from Arizona to Florida to M.L.B.’s headquarters in New York. The Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani — among the slowest working pitchers in baseball, particularly with runners on base — said adjusting to the new pitch clock was his biggest concern entering spring training. The Angels set up clocks at the practice fields, as do many other teams. The rules are quite clear. of Some potential and nuance in strategizing
“If you ask anyone in our camp or anyone around baseball if they have it down pat, I would call B.S. if everyone is up to speed yet,” Gabe Kapler, Manager San Francisco Giants of These are the rules. Later, he added information about his players. “What I’m seeing that I’m pleased with is there’s a lot of questions being asked.”
Friday’s first inning saw the impact of One more of The new rules were obvious. The new rules were apparent. Machado’s violation — the only one in the game — he singled. Juan Soto was a lefty hitter and he hit a single on the right side. of The infield would most likely have resulted in an inning-ending double plays if it weren’t for the prohibition on defensive shifts. Two fielders must be present on either side of the new rules. of second base, which allowed more space for Soto’s ball to get through.
“Lefties are going to love it,” MachadoAs a result, he raced to the third base. “It’s going to be cool to see more offense and more first-to-third and more runs probably going to be scored. But then you’re also going to see some pretty good defense.”
It is approximately 10 miles away MachadoIn a thrilling game on Friday, the Kansas City Royals beat the Texas Rangers 6-5. Three pitchers were responsible for pitch-clock violations in that game.
When the Padres threatened in the ninth inning — there was a mound visit and the addition of a pinch-runner — the game still breezed along. David Dahl was the final base runner, and they loaded the bases.
Two hours 29 minutes was the final time.