York Revolution fans should expect games to be completed at a faster pace this season.
At least that's what the Atlantic League will try to do this year with new pace-of-play rules.
"It's to get the experience of coming to an Atlantic League game consistent," Atlantic League executive director Joe Klein said. "This is a collective effort, and it's not only the umpires, it's the players, too. Players are going to be moving in and out between innings, and stuff that you see, like promotions, every half-inning has to be moved along."
The reaction from York Revolution manager Mark Mason and some of his players are mixed.
Rules: There are three new pace-of-game rules in particular that players will have to pay close attention.
First, a pitcher will have 12 seconds to deliver his next pitch from the moment he receives the ball. Previously, league rules dictated that pitchers were allowed 20 seconds between pitches, according to Atlantic League chairman Peter Kirk.
Second, only 90 seconds can pass between each half-inning from the moment of the third out to the moment of the next pitch in the following half-inning.
Third, there will be restrictions on the number of mound visits that coaches and players can make to chat with the pitcher.
In addition, umpires will attempt to limit the number of times batters can step in and out of the batter's box over the course of a plate appearance.
As for the punishments should the rules not be met?
Well, umpires can call a ball should the 12-second rule between pitches not be met. But the rule does not apply when a runner is on base. The same thing can happen if more than 90 seconds passes between each half-inning. Similarly, a batter can be issued a strike if the umpire feels the batter is slowing down the game by stepping in and out of the batter's box too often. Klein said one umpire will have a stopwatch to monitor the pace of play and enforce the rules.
In addition, if a game takes longer than 2 hours, 45 minutes to complete, managers and general managers of the teams involved and the umpires of that game must fill out a report explaining why.
"What we're doing is a team effort between managers, players and the front office," Kirk said. "We're all going to do our part to work together. It's not an adversarial thing."
Reaction: Mason revealed the new rules to his players for the first time on Wednesday afternoon before York's exhibition against Southern Maryland at Sovereign Bank Stadium.
The biggest gripe seems to come in the visitation rules for pitchers. Position players, including the catcher, are allowed two visits to the mound the entire game. The coaching staff is also permitted two free visits to the mound.
"So the way it would work is if I went out to the starting pitcher and I pulled him in my first trip out there, then I still have two free ones (visits to the mound)," Mason said. "If I go out and talk to the starter and I go back in the dugout and then two innings later I go out and talk to whoever is in the game and I don't pull him, that's my two free ones. Then every time I go to the mound after that I have to pull the pitcher."
That's something York reliever Josh Judy is concerned about.
"You kind of want to have either the catcher come out and stop the momentum of the other team or even the pitching coach come out to just give the pitcher breath of fresh air," Judy said.
Mason is also concerned about the 90-second rule between half-innings because he feels pitchers need their eight warm-up pitches.
"I told them (pitchers) not to worry about it," he said. "Don't put a stopwatch in your head to the point where it's effecting you. Just get the ball and go. (For hitters), get in the box and hit."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.