Spring Training began on Saturday for the Los Angeles Angels and it featured the first taste of the pitch clock for many of their Major League players.
The rule states a pitcher must begin his motion before the expiration of the 15-second timer, or 20 seconds with at least one runner on base, and there will also be a 30-second clock for pitchers between batters. For hitters, they must be in the batter’s box with at least eight seconds remaining and they will receive one timeout per plate appearance.
A violation on pitchers results in an automatic ball, while hitters receive an automatic strike for the violation.
It’s a significant change to the game, but players who have utilized it before say it just takes some time to get used to the faster pace, via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register:
“Once everyone gets used to it, it’s going to be a little more relaxed and everyone’s going to be kind of back to normal, but the pitch clock will still be there so it’ll be a tick quicker,” said Angels catcher Matt Thaiss, who had played with a clock last year at Triple-A.
The rules MLB added were tested in more than 8,000 Minor League and independent league games, including at the Triple-A level last season. Tucker Davidson was among the players who experienced it in 2022, and despite not being fond of it early, the rules eventually grew on him:
“You don’t have time to mentally check back out and check in,” Davidson said. “You have to be ready to go. It’s going to be an adjustment. I’m glad they gave us six weeks of spring training to figure it out.”
Jared Walsh has not experienced the pitch clock previously, but he feels players will grow to appreciate it after the adjustment period:
“I think there’s going to be a little adjustment period, but I’m assuming when every guy has the ability to get home before midnight after getting treatment and all that, guys are going to come around to it,” Walsh said. “I think the more you watch, there’s a lot of weird antics that happen. Guys have their weird routines before they get to the batter’s box and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that we’re getting rid of some of that, personally. To each their own.”
During testing in the Minor Leagues, the average time of a nine-inning game was reduced by 25 minutes, from 3:03 to 2:38. On the first day of Spring Training, the average game length was 2:26, while MLB games averaged more than three hours every year since 2016.
Ben Joyce making big impression in Spring Training
Third-round draft pick Ben Joyce has lit up the radar gun early in camp and made a strong impression as well.
Joyce made a name for himself at the University of Tennessee, featuring an 80-grade fastball with a powerful 6-foot-5 body. The 22-year-old then made his Minor League debut at Double-A with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, posting a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings pitched.
His top-end fastball carried him most of the way, and with a little help from an average secondary changeup, he notched 20 strikeouts in his short time in the minors last season.
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