May 23, 2023

Batters Can No Longer Try to Induce Pitch Timer Violation

MLB Issues Memo to Penalize Batters Who Illegally Induce a Pitch Timer Violation

Batters Can No Longer Try to Induce Pitch Timer Violation

In my last report I covered the situation where Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen committed three Pitch Timer violations in the same inning in the May 13, 2023 game against the Cardinals.  MLB issued a memo that exonerated Jansen based on the actions of the batter, Willson Contreras. Following is the memo in part.

In recent days, we have seen batters attempt to induce pitchers to violate the Pitch Timer Regulations by creating the appearance that they are in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with more than eight (8) seconds remaining on the clock when, in actuality, they have not fully entered the batter’s box. The batter’s purpose with such an approach is to deceive the pitcher into beginning his windup or coming set before the batter is fully in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher. For example, in a recent game, a batter had his eyes on the pitcher and appeared to be in a hitting position (i.e., bat upright, on or near the hitter’s shoulder), but one of his feet was intentionally planted just outside of the batter’s box. Because the pitcher believed (albeit wrongly) that the batter was in the box and alert to the pitcher, the pitcher unwittingly committed a quick pitch in violation of Clarification #4. As a result, we have advised umpires that conduct by batters designed to deceive a pitcher into beginning their windup or coming to the set position early – including pretending to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher – constitutes circumvention under the Pace of Game Regulations.

Pitchers must continue to be aware of the position of the batter, and identify when the batter is appropriately in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher before the pitcher begins the windup or comes set. However, if the umpire determines that a batter appears alert to the pitcher and prepared to hit a pitch with more than 8 seconds remaining on the timer, but is deliberately keeping one or both feet outside of the batter’s box, the umpire will not call a violation on the pitcher, but rather will issue a warning to the batter for his deceptive behavior. If the batter continues to engage in such conduct during the game, the umpire shall assess a Pitcher Timer Violation for each subsequent attempt to induce the pitcher to quick pitch. Clubs that have multiple players who repeatedly engage in this type of behavior will be subject to discipline by the Office of the Commissioner.

Ruleball Comments

  1. In my opinion this memo was clearly directed at Contreras because of his actions in the May 13, 2023 Cardinals-Red Sox game.
  2. I would advise all teams to review this memo with their players if you have not already done so.
  3. Broadcasters should be alert to this ploy that is being used by some batters.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  Angels, D’backs, Dodgers, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, Bally Sports, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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