Last week, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the anticipated pace of play initiatives and replay modifications for the 2015 season.
One of the main changes implemented is hitters must keep one foot inside the batters box at all times, unless an established exception occurs. According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is in favor of the new rule:
Don Mattingly, supporting new pace of play rules: "You don't need to get out of the box after every pitch. Let's go."
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 25, 2015
This rule was in place in the Minor Leagues in 2014. Another new rule that will be in place this season to help the pace of the game is the addition of timers that will measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes.
Immediately following the third out of each half inning, the timer, which will be located near each team’s dugouts, will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and from 2:45 for nationally televised games.
The pitcher will be expected to throw his final warm-up pitch with 30 seconds left on the timer, and the hitter must step in the batter’s box with 20 seconds so that the pitcher can throw the first pitch by the time the clock hits zero.
These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system, with discipline resulting for flagrant violators. No fines will be issued in Spring Training or in April of the 2015 regular season.
As Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes, Mattingly is also in favor of incorporating a timer:
I like the word ‘pace’ as opposed to speeding the game up, we should have a good pace to the game,” Mattingly said. “I think some of the rules have been there, we just have to enforce it. I’m all for playing at a better pace. We can cut out some of the down time.”
The final major rule change for the upcoming season is a change made to the replay rule that was implemented last season. When a manager considered challenging a call, he often would run out and speak with the umpire, waiting for one of the other coaches to give him the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on whether he should challenge the call or not.
Now, a manager does not have to power to leave the dugout if he wants to challenge. Managers instead may hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home plate umpire that he is considering a challenge.
Mattingly also agree with this change:
There’s no reason to leave the dugout for that.”
Instant replay will not be used during 2015 Spring Training, but it will be in place for exhibition games at Major League ballparks prior to the start of the 2015 regular season. Mattingly challenged 38 calls last season and was successful 21 times.
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