Report: Pitch clocks in regular season a 'real possibility'
The 20-second pitch clock is about to debut in spring training, and it might not be going away anytime soon.
There's a "very real possibility" that Major League Baseball will bring the pitch clock to regular-season games, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan, citing sources.
Commissioner Rob Manfred can unilaterally implement a pitch clock without approval from the MLB Players Association. However, negotiations between the league and players are continuing, Passan reports.
Many players are opposed to the clock, according to Passan. Some have already spoken out against the idea, including Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Rich Hill - who called the concept "ridiculous" - and Clayton Kershaw, who said he won't pay attention to the clocks during spring.
Manfred revealed Sunday that the clocks would be used in spring games, and MLB announced the concept - officially termed a "pitch timer" - in a release Friday afternoon. According to the rules, pitchers will have 20 seconds from the moment they receive the ball from the catcher to begin their wind-up or come set; batters must be inside the box with 5 seconds left.
The clock will be implemented into games in three phases:
- No violations will be called during early spring games to allow everyone to get used to the system.
- Within the next week, umpires will begin to warn violators, though no punishments will be enforced.
- Near the end of spring training, punishments will go into effect and be called by umpires. An automatic ball will be called on pitchers in violation of the clock; hitters in violation will receive an automatic strike.
MLB's release also notes that the implementation of the third phase, in which violations are called, may depend on the status of negotiations with the union about the rule changes.
Minor League Baseball has used a pitch clock since 2015.