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Pitch Clock Arrives at MLB Spring Training

Major League Baseball

20-second pitch clock made its first appearance at Major League Baseball spring training games over the weekend, bringing the long-debated initiative into play.   

Pace-of-play initiatives have prompted plenty of discussion in recent years, including the potential implementation of the pitch clock at the major-league level. Though it was introduced in the Double-A and Triple-A leagues in 2015, the pick clock has yet to make its way into the MLB regular season.

However, it will be used for MLB games during 2019 spring training action, as the league announced on Friday that it would implement the 20-second pitch clock over a three-phase process. The pitch clock was used during a phase-in period over the weekend, with enforcement and penalties for violating the rule to increase as spring training progresses. More from the AP:

Under the phase-in designed to allow teams to get used to the concept without fear of penalty, pitchers and batters who were taking too long in Saturday’s games were merely warned to hurry up. (When the policy, which has been used in some minor leagues since 2015, is phased in, a ball will be charged to pitchers who do not begin their motion in time.)

“In the minors, we had a pitch clock like that,” Orioles starter Yefry Ramirez said through a translator. “So I was already used to that rhythm.”

Pirates reliever Aaron Slegers delivered a pitch to Phillies shortstop Jean Segura after the clock expired in the fifth inning after catcher Jacob Stallings spent half the time giving defensive signs with runners on base. Other times, the clock nearly ran out after batters stepped out of the box.

Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. said he heard home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth tell one batter to hurry up; The Associated Press requested permission to talk to the umpires, but a spokesman for Major League Baseball declined, saying it was too early in the process to comment.

What remains to be seen is whether the pick clock is implemented in the regular season, be it in 2019 or at some point in the future. In this area, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred does have the power to implement changes, but he has declined to do so thus far, instead pursuing negotiations with players union officials. According to a press release issued by MLB on Friday, there has not been a decision on whether it will be used during the upcoming season.

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