After player input, MLB allows some pitch clock delays

March 22, 2023 GMT
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The pitch clock is operated in the press box during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale, Calif., Monday, March 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
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The pitch clock is operated in the press box during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale, Calif., Monday, March 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has clarified its new rules to allow umpires to delay the start of the pitch clock after big swings in which a hitter loses footing or when a pitcher covers first base, third or home, in addition to other clarifications announced Wednesday.

The commissioner’s office said in its memo that if a catcher ends an inning on base, at bat or on deck, an umpire may determine the catcher needs additional time and allow the pitcher another warmup throw and the catcher to throw to second base.

The MLB also said whether a defensive team violated the new shift restrictions will be subject to a video review only involving the first player to touch a ball after a pitch.

The league also said that after a batter uses his one allowed timeout during a plate appearance, the clock shall start when the hitter indicates he is ready in addition to the previous specification when he returned to the batter’s box.

The clarifications ahead of March 30 openers were contained in a four-page memo sent by MLB senior vice president Michael Hill to managers, general managers and assistant general managers, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

“They’re important in my mind because they’re responsive to things players said to us,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday night before Japan beat the United States 3-2 in the World Baseball Classic championship game.

Baseball’s 11-man competition committee, established in the labor agreement last March, adopted the pitch clock and shift limits last September over the opposition of the four players on the panel. MLB set the pitch clock at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners.

The average time of spring training games through Monday was down 25 minutes to 2 hours, 36 minutes. Violations per game were 1.03 during the past week, down from 2.03 during spring training’s first week, according to the memo.

Teams were told bat boys and girls in the visiting dugout will meet with the visiting club before each series to discuss the player preferences. MLB said it will monitor the bat boys and girls to determine whether they contribute to non-compliance with the pace of game procedures.

MLB said it will issue guidance to teams Friday on use of PitchCom by pitchers. Catchers were allowed to use the device to call pitches last season, and pitchers were allowed to experiment with it during spring training.

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