Salt Lake Bees Broadcaster Steve Klauke Talks New Rules As Opening Day Approaches

Mar 29, 2023, 10:52 AM | Updated: 11:10 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Talk of larger bases, defensive shift restrictions, and (gasp!), a pitch-clock have dominated spring training conversation this year. Legendary Weber State and Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke talked about those rules and more as he prepares for his 29th and final season calling minor league baseball.

The ‘Voice of the Bees’ joined DJ & PK on the KSL Sports Zone Wednesday, March 29.

RELATED: Legendary Salt Lake Bees Announcer Steve Klauke Announces Retirement

On Monday, March 24, Klauke and the Bees announced he would be stepping away from the team following the 2023 season. Despite retiring from minor league baseball, Klauke will continue calling football and basketball games for the Weber State Wildcats.

“Between the two, it’s over 190 games a year. The grind of the summer is tough and that lifestyle of eating restaurant meal after restaurant meal, combined with the ballpark food is not good for me,” Klauke said.

“I didn’t want to completely retire at this point. After eight years with the Wildcats, it’s been a lot of fun. I’ll keep my hand to the fire a few times and have some fun up there.”

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

Robot Umps In Salt Lake?

One adjustment not receiving much acclaim at the Triple-A level will be the continued use of an automated balls and strikes (ABS) system.

After experimenting with the system last season in some leagues, but not all, every Triple-A ballpark will employ ABS with slight adjustments. Smith’s Ballpark has installed Hawk-Eye cameras that track pitches and determine the location of the strike zone, which is a 19-inch, two-dimensional rectangle set on the middle of the plate.

“The rules are going to be a little bit different this year,” Klauke said. “The first three games of the series (typically Tues-Sun), the ABS will call balls and strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.”

“Last year, early in the season with the ABS. A hitter wouldn’t like the ball/strike call. So he’d turn to look at the umpire then realize, I can’t say anything. I can’t talk to the robot.”

RELATED: ‘Familiar Feel’ For Keith Johnson As Salt Lake Bees Manager Entering 2023

“On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The home plate umpire will call the balls and strikes.”

An ABS operator positioned in the park will track all the pitches on a computer and then radio it back to the home plate umpire, who will have an earpiece in at all times. The home-plate umpire then signals if it’s a strike (or no signal if it’s a ball) for everyone in the stadium to see.

“There will be a challenge system that only the pitcher, catcher and batter can challenge the call. Then they go back to the ABS to see if the umpire was right or wrong. You get up to three wrong challenges before you’re out of challenges.”

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Salt Lake Bees Broadcaster Steve Klauke Talks New Rules As Opening Day Approaches