Twins digest MLB rule changes: ‘We’ll just get used to it’ – InForum

As the Twins’ representative to the players’ association, Sonny Gray had a good idea that big changes were coming for next season, so he asked teammate Caleb Hamilton to guide him on the finer points. of the field clock.

Hamilton, a wide receiver and infielder, played 62 games with Class AAA St. Paul, playing with an MLB clock set up for all minor league levels this season. “I was like, ‘Tell me the rules. Tell me the rules.’

In a recent Joe Ryan departure, Gray said, he and Hamilton sat on the bench together with a stopwatch.

“I was clicking on the stopwatch and it was saying, ‘Ball.’ I would say, ‘Dang, OK,’ Gray said before Friday night’s game against Cleveland at Target Field. ‘Then he said, ‘That would be a strike.’ And there were 25, 30 seconds between throws.

That’s well past the deadline set for next season after baseball’s 11-man competition committee approved substantial rule changes for 2023. Bases will be bigger, harsh defensive changes will be banned, and pitchers will have to start their movement within 15 seconds when the bases are empty, 20 when there is a man on them. Failure to do so will result in the batter being awarded a ball.

But it’s not just about the launcher. The batter will need to be in the batter’s box and focused on the pitcher with eight seconds left; otherwise, he will be charged with a strike. Catchers can also cost the pitcher a ball, by not being in their box with nine seconds left on the clock.

That sounds like a lot to keep track of, but Triple-A teams have played by nearly identical rules this season, and games have been shortened by an average of nearly 21 minutes — a major MLB priority.

The same goes for the offense, which fell to levels last seen in 1967 and 1968, when pitching was so dominant that baseball lowered the pitching mound before the 1969 season. either a factor – they’re throwing harder than ever – so are defensive changes which, for left-handed hitters, often feature three infielders to the right of second base, one in shallow right field.

None of that will be allowed next season, when two infielders must be on either side of second and all four infielders must have their feet touching the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber. Teams also cannot use four outfielders, something the Twins experimented with from 2017 under manager Paul Molitor.

Twins shortstop Carlos Correa noted that he played on the grass in all defensive sets.

“I really believe in change when it comes to playing defense,” he said, “but when it comes to hitting, where I hit 80% of my balls on the ground, someone is going to be in. So the rule change is definitely going to help a lot of hitters.

To further help batters, the bases will be enlarged from 15 inches in diameter to 18. Gray, a former players’ association representative in Cincinnati, wondered if all of this would translate into shorter games.

“(With) the pitch clock, you want it to be faster. Shifts, you want more success,” he said. “Which in turn might slow it down. If you think about it, speed up the game, then more hits – then bigger bases (for) more hits, safer calls.

Among a slew of pitch clock-related rules, the most notable is a limit to two disengages — one out attempt or just one out of the rubber — per batter. This, noted manager Rocco Baldelli, “could cause some interesting scenarios”.

Baseball has weathered many changes over the years, from changing balls at the first sign of wear beginning in 1920 to adding the designated hitter to the American League in 1973 and then to both leagues in 2020.

“I think we’ve already proven it in this match: when the rules change, we adapt to them,” Baldelli said.

It can be argued that the new change rules were approved because batters — and on a macro level, teams — failed to adapt.

“It seems like a lot now,” Gray said, “but it’s like anything else in life, I’m sure we’ll get used to it.”

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