Thursday marked not only Opening Day for Major League Baseball but also the beginning of the pitch clock era. Rules were passed this offseason to speed up the pace of play in games. Pitchers have to begin their windup within 15 seconds of receiving the ball, and batters must be ready to hit with at least 8 seconds left.
There are still some growing pains with what constitutes being ready to hit. The Boston Red Sox were facing the Baltimore Orioles. The game was largely out of hand, but the Red Sox had star third baseman Rafael Devers at the plate in the bottom of the 8th. In a 1-2 count with nobody on and nobody out, Devers was deemed not ready to ready and was assessed a strike, which resulted in an automatic strikeout due to the count.
Watch as Rafael Devers becomes the first player in MLB history to be called out because of a pitch clock violation.— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) March 30, 2023
There's just not enough time to safely step out between pitches (even foul balls). pic.twitter.com/owm6v86aHJ
Devers makes eye contact with the pitcher with the bat in his hand, then shuffles his feet again when the pitcher isn’t yet ready. That change apparently was enough to deem him not ready to hit as the timer ticked below eight seconds. You could make the argument that he wasn’t ready, but when you appear ready to go and look up, and the pitcher isn't ready, are you just supposed to stand and wait? It feels like this was a judgment call, and the umpire didn’t get the right call. I’m sure we will get more information on this, with it being the first time it has happened, but overall there shouldn't be a lot of these violations throughout the league. Marcus Stroman got called for the first pitching violation earlier in the day and was assessed an automatic ball.