On 1st full day with new rules, games ‘better,’ with ‘more action’


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Saturday, February 25, 2023

On 1st full day with new rules, games ‘better,’ with ‘more action’

All involved were warned that there would be no grace period with regard to the rules. So it was that a game between the Red Sox and Braves in North Port, Fla., ended in the bottom of the ninth (with the score tied, as there was no intention between the two teams of using extra men to play extra innings) when Braves infielder Cal Conley, who was up to bat with the bases loaded, two outs and the count full, was not alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark of the pitch timer and was therefore assessed an automatic strike.

Struck out lagging.

Game over.

“These are the kind of things that tell you why we’re starting this right now,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “You never know what might happen. That instance right there shows you what could happen.”

The teachable moments will be many in this exhibition season, with the hope that most of the wrinkles are ironed out come Opening Day. The new rules were experimented in the Minor Leagues last season, and 90% of Minor Leaguers polled said it took them a month or less to adjust. Pitch timer infractions went from 1.73 per game in the first week in which the timer was in place to 0.53 per game by the sixth week.

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