On the day the majority of MLB clubs conducted their first full-squad workouts of spring training, commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday announced the pace-of-play rule changes to be implemented for the 2018 season.
While the rules focus on three main areas of play, perhaps most notable is the omission of any timers, either between pitches or between batters. On that note, the league stated through a release, "The Commissioner has decided to defer the implementation of a pitch timer and a between-batter timer in 2018 in order to provide players with an opportunity to speed up the game without the use of those timers."
Instead, the new rules will attempt to shorten game times with changes to:
-- Mound visits
-- Inning breaks and pitching changes
-- Video review
Here is a brief summary of the major changes for this season:
-- Each team is limited to six mound visits without a pitching change per nine innings, with one additional such visit per each inning beyond nine.
-- A "mound visit" includes all visits by a coach or manager and any visit between the pitcher and a teammate(s) during which one or more of the players leaves their position, including the pitcher.
-- Mound visits by only the catcher count against the allotment, but the home-plate umpire has the discretion to allow additional such visits once the allotment is expired, and only to discuss pitching signs.
INNING BREAKS AND PITCHING CHANGES
-- The time allotted between innings and pitching changes will be 2 minutes, 5 seconds for games only on local TV, 2:25 for games on national TV, and 2:55 for playoff games.
-- Pitchers can throw as many warm-up pitches as they like (the old rule was a guarantee of eight warm-up pitches), but the final warm-up pitch must be thrown at least 20 seconds before the end of the inning break / pitching change.
-- Enforcement: "Players who consistently or flagrantly violate the time limits will be subject to progressive discipline for just cause by the Office of the Commissioner."
-- All MLB team video rooms will receive direct slow-motion camera angles.
-- All MLB dugouts will have direct phone lines to the video-review room, and those phone lines will be monitored to prevent sign stealing.
The release also stated MLB and the players association will continue to meet during the 2018 season to discuss pace of play.
--Field Level Media