Clock-Off? Hitters React to Pitch Clock In Early MLB Spring Training Action

Mar 1, 2023, 5:51 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm
PEORIA, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 24: A pitch clock counts down as Jay Groome #55 of the San Diego Padres prepares to deliver a pitch to Eugenio Suarez #28 of the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning in a spring training game at Peoria Stadium on February 24, 2023 in Peoria, Arizona.

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.

“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.

RELATED: Explainer: MLB Rule Changes Designed To Increase On-Field Action

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.

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.

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.


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Clock-Off? Hitters React to Pitch Clock In Early MLB Spring Training Action