Find the latest breaking news and information on the top stories, science, business, entertainment, politics, and more.

Dodgers give pitch clock, other new rules rave reviews after spring opener

The field was a ball before it even started towards the plate.

In their first spring training game Saturday, in a full count with David Peralta batting in the second inning, the Dodgers first encountered one of Major League Baseball’s new rules.

Although Milwaukee Brewers is left handed Alex Claudio missed on what would have been ball four anyway, home plate umpire Jim Wolf stood up, flashed four fingers, and pointed to his watch.

Claudio, he judged, had not started his delivery before MLB’s newly introduced pitch clock expired.

So even if the throw had been right in the middle, Peralta would have been awarded first base.

“It was different,” Peralta said. “But I got the walk.”

It was the first example of what is expected to be a major change in the rhythm – and, more importantly, the length – of big league games, with Cactus League games introducing a series of major rule changes that MLB made during the offseason.

Starting this season, infield shifts are banned, forcing teams to keep their infielders on the sand and place two on either side of second base.

Pick-offs and “rubber disengagements” are limited for pitchers to only two per at bat, while a batter can call time at the plate only once.

Even the slightly comically enlarged new bases could provide subtle changes.

“When you see the huge oversized pizza box, it’s easy to hit,” Peralta joked about his experience running the bases on Saturday.

Home plate umpire Jim Wolf waits as the pitch clock counts down during Saturday’s first inning between the Dodgers and Brewers.

(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

However, nothing affects the game more than the pitch clock.

Each time a pitcher receives the ball on the mound, he now has 15 seconds (or 20 seconds with runners on base) to begin pitching.

Batters should also be “alert” for the mound with eight seconds left on the timer, which will be displayed in ballparks in various locations beyond center field and behind home plate.

The league’s hope is to make shorter, faster games.

At least it worked on Saturday, with the Dodgers’ 7-4 loss to the Brewers takes just 2 hours and 21 minutes — fitting into a pattern of other shorter game times surrounding baseball this weekend.

“Everyone was in tune with the pitch clock,” said Roberts. “I loved it. The pace was really good.”

Claudio’s automatic ball to Peralta was the first of four fouls on the pitch clock on Saturday.

After Peralta was caught focusing too much on the pitch clock earlier in the at bat – “Sometimes you think the clock is running out,” he said, “but just focus and let the umpire make the decision” – the Dodgers new outfielder had didn’t even notice that Claudio was taking too long to get into his full throw.

However, before the ball left Claudio’s left hand, Peralta heard Wolf call the foul, invalidating the field and giving him a free base.

“It was going to be ball four anyway,” Peralta said. “But who knows if I would have waved” if Wolf hadn’t said anything.

Before Saturday, the new rules already played an inordinate role in the Dodgers’ camp.

The team placed clocks near the bullpens and had coaches keep track of players who had to speed up their throws on the mound or lineup at the plate.

Two early contenders: Julio Urías, who broke the pitch clock limit four times in a simulated game on Thursday; and JD Martinez, who waited until the eighth second several times on Saturday to turn his attention to the pitcher.

Dodgers pitcher Marshall Kasowski pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

Dodgers pitcher Marshall Kasowski pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Major League field coordinator Bob Geren has led much of the Dodgers’ rule change effort. He has had several on-field conversations with groups of players at Camelback Ranch, and on Saturday, he talked to umpires about rules all the way to the clubhouse after the game.

Third base coach Dino Ebel has reminded the team’s infielders of the new team rules, yelling at this camp more than once that they can’t start a pitch with even a heel on the grass, or a foot on the wrong side of the pitch. second base.

“Kind of weird not seeing three guys on the right side,” said left-handed first baseman Freddie Freeman. “This is what it looked like when I came up. Now, 13 years later, it goes back to that.”

There are still some questions that need to be answered.

Freeman wasn’t sure on Saturday how long to put on his protective baserunning gear at first base.

Roberts also agreed that the reduced time between pitches could be more complicated during regular-season games, especially when signals need to be relayed from base coaches to their batters.

Nevertheless, the rules have so far been more novel than a nuisance.

During Thursday’s simulated game, Max Muncy celebrated a single on the ground through the right side of the infield – the kind of well-hit roller often gobbled up by shifted infielders in the past.

“Yes!” Muncy yelled as he clapped as he reached first base. “No service!”

That attitude permeated Saturday, with the new rules drawing more favorable reviews from Dodgers coaches and players.

“I think they realized it wasn’t as big of a problem as what we were talking about,” Roberts said, “which is a credit to them.”