New MLB Rules Already Affecting Spring Training Games

There has been an effort made over the last few years to try and speed up MLB games, as new rules have been implemented in order to keep game times down. There are regulations on pitching changes and how often a team cam substitute, but the biggest change for the upcoming 2023 season will almost certainly be the pitch clock.

As the new rule is written, players have 30 seconds to resume play between batters, and 15 or 20 seconds between pitches depending on if anyone is on base. But it isn’t just the pitchers, and the guys in the batter’s box had some serious issues on Friday and Saturday as spring training games got underway in Florida and Arizona.

New Pitch Clock Affects MLB Spring Training Games

Manny Machado and the Padres were facing the Mariners when in the first inning, when the third baseman was hit with an automatic strike for violating the pitch clock. The rules also states that the batter must be set in the batter’s box when the clock gets down to 8 seconds, something that Machado was in violation of. The umpire pointed to his wrist for the new signal for “clock issue”, and the count against Machado was 0-1 without a pitch ever have been thrown.

The new rules were on further display on Saturday in the game between the Braves and the Red Sox. Cal Conley of the Braves suffered the same fate as Machado, but it happened in the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Conley had failed to get set by the 8-second mark, and was called for an automatic strike. He was ruled out for the Braves’ third out of the inning, and the game ended in a 6-6 tie.

The rules are going to take some getting used to, both for the fans and the players alike. “That time came quick,” Machado said after his violation. “It’s definitely something we’re going to have to get used to. It kind of takes away from your routine, being up there and zoning in before the pitch.”

It is far too early to look at the results and make any kind of judgement of the success of the new rules, but the small sample size looks good. In comparison to last season’s spring training opening game, the 2023 version featured three fewer pitching changes, four more hits, and lasted 59 minutes shorter than in 2022. For a sport that regularly saw games exceed 3.5 hours and needed a change, the new rules may actually improve the watchability of the product, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t take some serious getting used to for everyone involved.

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