CINCINNATI — If you plan to tune in to any baseball games on Opening Day, you may notice some changes to how the game is being played.
This season Major League Baseball (MLB) is implementing a handful of new rules, including a pitch clock, shift restrictions and bigger bases.
The changes come after baseball fans said they wanted to see more action on the bases and a better pace of play, MLB officials say.
The new pitch clock is meant to speed up the time between pitches during an at bat. Pitchers will have 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when there is a runner on base. Per the new rule, a pitchers must start his delivery before the pitch clock expires. The clock will restart as soon as the pitcher has the ball back, the catcher is in position behind home plate and the batter is in the batter’s box. Violations of the pitch clock will result in an automatic ball.
Pitchers are also allowed to step off the mound or attempt a pickoff twice per batter. If it happens more than two times, then a balk will be called.
Batters are permitted one timeout per plate appearance. Batters also must be in the batter’s box with eight seconds left on the pitch clock. If they are not, an automatic strike will be called.
Additionally, there will be a 30-seond timer between batters.
The MLB is implementing shift restrictions. The defensive team must have a minimum of four players in the infield. The rule mandates that two infield players must be on each side of second base. This rule also requires infielders to have both feet within the infield during the pitch release.
The MLB has increased the size of first, second and third base from 15 inches to 18 inches in width. Officials say this give infielders and runners more room and possibly help reduce injuries. The increase in size ultimately decreases the distance between each base.
The new rules went into effect during Spring Training so that players could get used to them.
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