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Mar '15 25

Minor League Baseball announces new Pace of Game Rules for 2015 Season

By Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball announced rules and procedures aimed at improving the pace of play in games at the Triple-A and Double-A levels.

The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, will monitor the time taken between innings and pitches, and will limit the amount of time allowed during pitching changes. Umpires will continue to enforce rules prohibiting batters from leaving the batter’s box between pitches.

Timers have been installed at all Triple-A and Double-A parks in plain view of umpires, players and fans to monitor the pace of play and determine when violations occur. The month of April will serve as a grace period, with players receiving warnings for infractions. Beginning May 1, rules will be enforced as written. The regulations and penalties for non-compliance are listed below.

INNING BREAKS

  • Inning breaks will be two minutes, 25 seconds in duration. The first batter of an inning is encouraged to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left on the inning break timer. The pitcher must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position at any point within the last 20 seconds of the 2:25 break.
  • Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the last 20 seconds of the inning break, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 1-0 count.
  • Beginning May 1, should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with five or more seconds remaining on the inning break timer, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 0-1 count.
  • Umpires will have the authority to grant extra time between innings should special circumstances arise.
  • The inning break timer will begin with the final out of the previous half-inning. For inning breaks during which God Bless America or any patriotic song is played in which all action in the ballpark stops (similar to the national anthem), the timer will begin at the conclusion of the song.

PITCHING CHANGES

  • The pitching change timer shall begin as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens) to enter the game.
  • In the event a pitching change occurs during an inning break, the timer shall reset as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens).
  • Umpires have the authority to reset the timer at their discretion.
  • Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the last 20 seconds of the pitching change break, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 1-0 count.
  • Beginning May 1, should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with five or more seconds remaining on the pitching change timer, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 0-1 count.

20-SECOND PITCH TIMER

  • Pitchers will be allowed 20 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position.
  • The pitcher does not necessarily have to release the ball within 20 seconds, but must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position to comply with the 20-second rule.
  • For the first pitch of an at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
  • The timer will stop as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up, or begins the motion to come to the set position.
  • If the pitcher feints a pick off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately.
  • Umpires have the authority to stop the 20-second timer and order a reset.
  • Following any event (e.g., pick-off play) that permits the batter to leave the batter’s box, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
  • Following an umpire’s call of “time” or if the ball becomes dead and the batter remains at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher is on the pitcher’s plate and the batter is in the batter’s box, alert to the pitcher.
  • Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in 20 seconds, a ball will be awarded to the count on the batter.

“Minor League Baseball is excited to implement the pace of game initiatives at the Triple-A and Double-A levels of our organization,” said Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner. “We feel the emphasis on pace will lead to more fan enjoyment and better play on the field and is another example of the cooperative relationship between our leagues and Major League Baseball in the advancement of player development.”


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