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MLB imposes rule changes to enhance pace of play

Scott Clarke/ESPN Images
Scott Clarke/ESPN Images

(NEW YORK) — You’ll be seeing less visits to the mound this baseball season. This part of Major League Baseball’s effort to speed up the nine-inning game which was on average a record three hours and five minutes last season.

The league announced Monday there will be a general limit of six mound visits per nine-inning game without a pitching change. This means any visit by a coach, manager or player.

Under this rule, each team will get an additional mound visit without a pitching change per extra inning. If there are no visits remaining, the home plate umpire can grant permission for the catcher to go out and talk to the pitcher if there’s a cross-up on pitch signals.

MLB is also eliminated rules guaranteeing eight warm-up pitches before a half-inning in an effort to keep inning breaks shorter. The goal is 2:05 for most games, 2:25 for national TV games during the regular season and 2:55 for postseason games. There are, of course, exceptions if there are injuries or if the pitcher or catcher is on base, at bat or on deck during that time.

“I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the players association,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”

Understanding is the key word, because the MLB Players Association refused to agree to the changes, but also signed an agreement to not oppose the rules. There were also discussions about 20-second pitch clocks, but that was not implemented.

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