Spring training for the MLB got underway this afternoon and we already have our first pitch-clock controversy.
The Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves were tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth of their opener and Braves shortstop stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Facing a full count, the young infielder had a chance to make a name for himself right out the gate. He did...but for the wrong reason.
Cal Conley does not get set in time and gets called for the strikeout and the game ends pic.twitter.com/rQ8KOv0Sa6— Gaurav (@gvedak) February 25, 2023
As you can see, Conley did not get set in time and that prompted the umpire to call a strike to end the game. There could not have been a more dramatic way to illustrate this new, controversial rule change.
Last September, the MLB’s Competition Committee approved for a pitch timer to be implemented to speed up the pace of play. To review, pitchers will now have a 30-second clock between batters. They will have a 15-second clock between pitches with no runners on base and a 20-second clock with runners on base. If the pitcher does not begin his pitching motion before the timer expires, he will be charged with an automatic ball.
In turn, batters must be in the box and alert the pitcher that he’s ready to hit by the eight-second mark of the timer. Failing to do so with result in an automatic strike, so in Conley’s case this afternoon, he was too slow and that ended the game.
The pitch clock has been met with criticism and derision by baseball purists heading into spring training and this result will make those critiques even louder. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming month as teams adjust.