Major League Baseball's announcement that it will test several radical new rule changes in the independent Atlantic League has received mixed reactions around the sport.
Perhaps the harshest rebuke came from Los Angeles Dodgers starter and Atlantic League alumnus Rich Hill. Specifically, the southpaw took aim at the plans to move pitching mounds back by two feet - the first change to the mound's location in well over a century. They also won't be relocated from the standard 60 feet, six inches until halfway through the season, a factor that only inflamed Hill's anger.
"I think it's ridiculous," Hill said Friday, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register. "Two feet is a huge difference. The game's been played that way for 100 years. I don't understand why - I don't know. I don't know."
In addition to the mound changes, other rules being tested at the behest of MLB include robot umpires calling balls and strikes, a three-batter minimum for relievers, and the banning of infield shifts. The changes, mostly aimed at speeding up the pace of play, will be tested in the Atlantic League for three years.
"(It's) a joke," Hill said. "It's sad that they're doing that, honestly. I'm definitely for change. Are there more efficient ways to play the game? Sure. ... But that's not the way the game was designed, the way the game was structured."
It could be a while before any of these ideas reach the majors, but another pace-of-play initiative - the pitch clock - is being tested in spring training and could be implemented this year. Hill spoke out against pitch clocks last month, calling the concept "ridiculous."
Hill's two-game stint with the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks in 2015 revived his career, as it led to his joining the Boston Red Sox that September. He's remained in the majors ever since, and signed a three-year, $48-million deal with the Dodgers in 2017.