MLB ANNOUNCES FORMAT OF PITCH TIMER DURING SPRING TRAINING
Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced the format of a pitch timer that will be used during 2019 Spring Training games. No decision has been made on whether the timer will be used in regular season games.
A 20-second pitch timer will begin in three phases during Spring Training: 1) In the first Spring Training games, the 20-second timer will operate without enforcement so as to make players and umpires familiar with the new system. 2) Early next week, umpires will issue reminders to pitchers and hitters who violate the rule, but no ball-strike penalties will be assessed. Between innings, umpires are expected to inform the club’s field staff (manager, pitching coach or hitting coach) of any violations. 3) Later in Spring Training, and depending on the status of the negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association, umpires will be instructed to begin assessing ball-strike penalties for violations. Like the rule in Minor League Baseball, the rule requires: (i) the batter to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with at least five seconds remaining on the timer; and (ii) the pitcher to begin his windup or motion to come to a set position before the 20-second timer expires (the pitch itself does not need to be thrown before the expiration of the timer). The timer will never be used on the first pitch of any at-bat and will begin running prior to the second pitch when the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher.
The accompanying file, which has been shared with all Major League Clubs and umpires, provides additional guidance on the operation of the pitch timer. # # #
Contact: Patrick Courtney or Michael Teevan, Major League Baseball, (212) 931-7878, mlbpressbox.com, @MLB_PR.
MLB PACE OF GAME GUIDELINES
Timer Between Pitches. There shall be a 20‐second pitch timer between each pitch. Except as otherwise described in the Rules, the pitcher must deliver each pitch of an at‐bat prior to the expiration of the 20‐second timer.
The pitcher must begin his windup motion or the motion to come set before the 20‐second timer expires.
The batter must be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher at the 5‐second mark of the pitch clock timer.
The 20‐second timer shall start after each pitch of an at‐bat, beginning with when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the catcher is in the box.
● Timer Begins After First Pitch of At‐Bat. The 20‐second pitch timer only starts after the first pitch of an at‐bat and each subsequent pitch of that at‐bat.
● Pickoff Play, Wild Pitch or Passed Ball. The timer shall reset to 20 seconds when the pitcher is in possession of the ball in the dirt circle and the catcher is in position.
● Pitcher Feints a Pickoff Attempt or Steps Off Rubber With Runners on Base. The timer shall immediately be reset to 20 seconds.
● Foul Ball/Dead Ball. The timer shall not be used on the next pitch.
● Mound Visit/Catcher Leaves Box. The timer shall stop and not be used on the next pitch.
● Umpire Calls “Time”. The timer shall stop and not be used on the next pitch. However, if time was called solely for purposes of resetting the clock, or changing a baseball, the timer shall start on the umpire’s signal.
20‐SECOND PITCH TIME START & STOP OF TIMER
20‐SECOND PITCH TIMER Q&AS
Q: Does the 20‐second pitch timer ever start before the first pitch of an at‐bat? A: No.
Q: Does the 20‐second pitch timer restart if the umpire calls “time” (or grants a request for “time”) while the clock is running within an at‐bat? A: No. The timer shall not be used for the pitch following the call of time.
Q: What happens if the batter is not in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with at least five (5) seconds remaining on the timer? A: This would constitute a violation of the Rule by the batter, and the pitcher would be excused for failing to begin his windup motion or begin the motion to come set prior to the expiration of the 20‐second timer.
Q: Does the timer stop when the pitcher releases the pitch? A: No. The timer stops when the pitcher begins his windup motion or begins the motion to come set, and not when he releases the pitch.
Q: Are there any circumstances where the timer would stop but immediately be reset to 20 seconds? A: Yes, but only if the pitcher feints a pickoff or steps off the rubber with runners on base, or the umpire calls “time” for the purpose of resetting the clock.
Q: If, following a pitch in the dirt, the umpire calls “time” to replace the ball, when would the clock start again? A: Even though the umpire called “time” the clock starts again when the new ball is thrown back to the pitcher and the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the catcher is in the catcher’s box.
Q: A pitcher picks off the runner at first base, and the runner is thrown out on a contested play at second base. When does the timer begin? A: The timer will start when the pitcher receives the ball in the dirt circle and the catcher is in position, unless the umpire calls “time”.
Q: A pitcher throws a wild pitch with a runner on first base and the catcher throws to second base to hold the runner at first. When does the timer start? A: The timer will start when the pitcher receives the ball in the dirt circle and the catcher is in position, unless the umpire calls “time”.
Q: If a catcher, position player, manager and/or coach goes to the mound after the pitch clock starts does the clock resume running following the conclusion of the mound visit? A: No. “Time” is granted for a mound visit, so the timer will not start until after the next pitch.
Q: After a called pitch, the pitch clock is started as the pitcher received the throw back from the catcher while standing on the grass several feet in front of the mound. What should the umpire do? A: The umpire should signal for the timer to be reset once the pitcher is on the dirt portion of the mound and the catcher is in the catcher’s box.
Q: Following a called strike two to the batter, the runner from first base was called safe while attempting to steal second base. The runner was granted “time” by the second umpire as he gathered himself after his slide. Will the pitch clock run on the following pitch? A: No. In this scenario the pitch clock will not run because “time” was granted by the umpire. (In addition, the 30‐second challenge clock also will not run because the play happened within the at‐bat.)
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