San Diego Padres star Manny Machado becomes first MLB player to be penalized by all-new pitch clock revolutionizing baseball in spring training against Seattle Mariners
Baseball’s new timing device made its big league debut Friday during a limited schedule of spring training openers, and San Diego Padres All-Star slugger Manny Machado was its first casualty.
Machado found out the hard way that the pitch clock works in both directions. Not quite in the batter’s box, he was alert to the Seattle Mariners’ leftie Robbie Ray when the 15-second clock wound under 8 seconds in the bottom of the first inning.
Umpire Ryan Blakney called the time and signaled strike one against Machado, who finished second in last season’s NL MVP race.
Machado was hardly taken aback. He singled on a 2-1 pitch, then collected another single for his second best.
The pitch clock is used by all MLB franchises during spring training
San Diego Padres slugger Manny Machado was the first to be stabbed by the new pitch clock
Machado, who slammed between fellow superstars Xander Bogaerts and Juan Soto, laughed about it afterwards.
“At least going into the record books. That’s a good one. Not bad,’ Machado said. “Maybe I’ll be 0-1 if I can score two goals every game.”
The pitch clock is one of the new rules designed to improve tempo. Players have 30 seconds to resume play between batters. Between pitches, pitchers have 15 seconds with no one on and 20 seconds if there is a runner on base.
The pitcher must begin his throw before the clock runs out. After a pitch, the clock restarts when the pitcher has the ball back, the catcher and batter are in the circle around home plate, and play is otherwise ready to resume.
Batters must be in the penalty area and warn the pitcher with at least eight seconds on the clock. Batters can call time once per plate appearance, which stops the countdown. If a pitcher fails to throw a pitch in time, the penalty is an automatic ball. If a batter doesn’t finish in time, it’s an automatic hit.
“Time passed quickly,” Machado said. “It’s definitely something we’ll have to get used to. It kind of takes away from your routine, being up there and zoning out for the field.
The referee gave me a little warning – “Hey, you got two seconds” – but I was already too late when I got in there.
“You have 30 seconds and you have to be done by eight. Really forget about walk-up songs,’ he added with a laugh. ‘It’s going to be interesting. I always tap the referee for respect. Those things will get out of the way.”
Teams have become accustomed to the pitch clock by using it in live batting practice this spring
Batters can’t leave the box between pitches, “which I don’t mind,” Machado added. “You can just keep one foot in the coffin and pull yourself back together.
“Going to the box makes guys go faster,” Machado said. “Even pitchers, if you’re down 2-0, how are you going to catch a break and lock yourself back in without getting penalized? It’s the same as going up when you hit.
‘It will be an interesting year. It’s gonna be fun. Who knows where this leads? There’s a lot of strategy involved here.’