Clock-Off? Hitters React to Pitch Clock In Early MLB Spring Training Action
SALT LAKE CITY – Major League Baseball opened its spring training schedule over the weekend, implementing a series of game-changing rules along the way.
“I’m gonna have to make a big adjustment. I might be down 0-1 a lot,” San Diego Padres superstar Manny Machado said after becoming the first hitter to fall victim to a pitch clock violation.
Manny Machado talks about being the first player to have a pitch clock violation called on them
"I might be 0-1 down a lot this year" pic.twitter.com/WqrKcwVqaZ
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) February 24, 2023
“It’s super fast. There’s going to be an adjustment period, but at least I’ll go down in the history books,” Machado chuckled after coming out of the game.
Among several rule changes heading into the 2023 season, the pitch timer has already had an impact in several spring training games. That’s exactly how MLB hoped it would play out.
Pitchers now have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty, rising to 20 seconds with a runner on base. The timer starts the moment the pitcher receives the ball and stops the moment he goes into his motion. Pitchers will have a 30-second clock between batters.
Hitters are required to be in the batter’s box with eyes on the pitcher before the clock hits eight seconds.
Manny Machado talks about getting called for a pitch clock violation before his very first at-bat of Spring Training, resulting in an 0-1 count before he saw a pitch: pic.twitter.com/GqpJjhBc8d
— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) February 24, 2023
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After the game, Machado expanded on his pitch clock thoughts.
“That time came by quick and it’s something we’ll have to get used to. It kind of takes away your routine, your presence of zoning in before my pitch. It’s going to speed up guys, even pitchers. If you’re down 2-0, how are you going to catch your breath without getting penalized for it? It’s the same thing when you’re hitting. You just gotta get in there and go. It’s something we’re going to have to start working on and get used to.”
Pitch Clock Violation Causes Game To End In Tie
You read that right. A Major League Baseball spring training game in 2023 ended with a pitch clock violation.
With a game between the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox tied at six in the bottom of the ninth, Braves second baseman Cal Conley worked a full count against Red Sox Robert Kwiatkowski.
Tie game. Ninth inning. Bases loaded. Full count.
Game ends on a clock violation by the hitter pic.twitter.com/h9PgMzB516
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) February 25, 2023
Before Kwiatkowski could deliver the pay-off pitch, home plate umpire John Libka issued an automatic strike call against Conley because he wasn’t in the box, facing the pitcher before eight seconds on the clock.
For a brief moment, nobody was sure what exactly the call had been or who it went against. Conley took several steps toward first base before realizing he had been called out. Kwiatkowski remained on the mound for several seconds before walking off the field.
“Honestly, I had no idea what was going on,” Kwiatkowski said. “I thought I screwed up. I thought I walked in the run and the game was over. But then he was out. And I was a little jumpy. I even kind of paused walking off the mound — like, is he out? Is the game over? What’s going on?”
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“I don’t think this (rule) was intended for a game to end like that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
He’s right. He’s also wrong.
Here's another update on the pitch clock:
Average game time this spring: 2:39
Last spring at this point: 3:01
That's 22 minutes shorter!
1.74 per game – almost identical to the 1.73 in the first week in the minors last year
85 on pitchers
28 on hitters
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 1, 2023
MLB officials have asked umpires to enforce the new rules to the strictest letter of the law. Why? Officials believe that is the only way for players to adjust, years of routine in some cases, ahead of Opening Day.
“This will be all over SportsCenter and all that kind of stuff, what happened,” Snitker said. As well as it should. a ‘clock-off’ strikeout is something new.