New clocks not noticed much on first full day of MLB season
NEW YORK (AP) What clock?
The new digital timers tracking between-inning breaks and pitching changes did not appear to be noticed much on Monday, the first full day of Major League Baseball's renewed effort to speed the pace of games.
"I've never had a problem with it, so I just went and did my thing," Baltimore pitcher Chris Tillman said following a 6-2 win at Tampa Bay.
New regulations require hitters to keep a foot in the batter's box with seven exceptions. The clock times inning breaks and pitching changes at 2 minutes, 25 seconds for locally televised games and 2:45 for nationally televised games. Pitchers must throw their last warmup pitches before 30 seconds remain, with exceptions if the pitcher or catcher is on base when the previous half-inning ends.
"I didn't pay any notion," New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann said following a 6-1 loss to Toronto.
MLB said penalties are limited to warnings and fines, and those don't begin until May 1.
Batters used to stepping out tried to keep one foot on the chalk outlining the box.
"We didn't have any problems at all. The hitters were excellent," plate umpire Gerry Davis said after working the plate as Boston's Clay Buchholz pitched the Red Sox to an 8-0 victory at Philadelphia. "I didn't notice anybody having any problems. The only issues we had was, Clay took a little long getting back out to the mound. He had three innings where he made the last out. It's difficult to get out in that time. ... I actually noticed that he was hustling and thanked him for doing it."
Boston's David Ortiz, known for stepping out of the box, adjusting his gloves and spitting into them between pitches, stayed in. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
Baseball announced the changes in February after the average time of a nine-inning game stretched to a record 3 hours, 2 minutes last year, up from 2:33 in 1981.
More drastic measures are being implemented in the minor leagues. Ballparks at Triple-A and Double-A will have 20-second pitch clocks, and balls and strikes in the count will be used as penalties starting May 1.
While watching the St. Louis Cardinals' 3-0 win at the Chicago Cubs in Sunday night's opener on television, a game that included, 23 strikeouts, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy humorously tweeted "if this is the new strike zone I think you could convince pitchers to use a 10-second pitch clock."
"I don't see it as experimental," new Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday in Washington, D.C. "During spring training, we kind of eased into it. That process will continue as the season goes on, and probably we'll become a little more aggressive as players have an opportunity to get used to the changed rules. The big issue from our perspective is to give players an opportunity to get used to the change."
Detroit beat Minnesota 4-0 in a game that took 2:30. Plate umpire Joe West said there were only two violators: Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes was late for the first inning and Twins reliever J.R. Graham was late for the eighth.
"We had one Detroit hitter step out of the box with both feet, and I said, 'Hey,'" West recalled. "He said, 'Oh, I forgot,' and he jumped back in. He didn't hold up the game."
Atlanta's opener at Miami ran into timing problems even before Henderson Alvarez threw the first pitch. Ceremonies ran late, so the game started at 4:22 p.m. 12 minutes behind schedule.
AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich, Dan Gelston, Rob Maaddi, Janie McCauley, Howie Rumberg, Noah Trister and Steven Wine, and AP freelance writers Mark Didtler and Dick Scanlon contributed to this report.