Major League Baseball has formally announced the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock to be tested during Spring Training games. Jeff Passan of ESPN reportedminutes prior to the announcement that it’d be made today. Per the league’s announcement, there has been no decision made regarding the potential implementation of the pitch clock during the upcoming regular season, though Passan tweeted that there is a “very real possibility” of that happening.
Early in Spring Training, as players adjust to the latest pace-of-play tactic put in place by commissioner Rob Manfred, there will not be any ball or strike penalties for pitch-clock violations. By the second week of games, umpires will begin to issue warnings, and eventually, umps “will be instructed to begin assessing ball-strike penalties for violations.”
Notably, the pitch clock comes with numerous restrictions. It does not apply to the first pitch of a plate appearance, and the pitcher need only start his motion before the clock expires rather than deliver the actual pitch. Hitters will be required to be in the batter’s box by the time there are five seconds remaining on the clock, and the clock will reset when the pitcher receives the ball back from the catcher.
On pickoff plays, the clock will reset when the pitcher once again receives the ball from the infielder to whom he threw. The clock will also reset if pitchers feint a pickoff motion or step off the rubber with a runner on base. Mound visits will also cause the clock to reset. If an umpire calls or grants time, the pitch clock will not be used on the following pitch (unless time was called to swap out a ball thrown in the dirt).