Friend-of-HBT Nick Collias just tipped us off to a report from Puerto Rico about how Koby Clemens — son of Roger and property of the Houston Astros — has been barred from international play after abandoning his winter ball team, the Mayagüez Indians, last Wednesday.
According to the report by Karla Pacheco Alvarez at the Puerto Rican paper Primera Hora, Clemens left the team without providing any reason. This led his team to file paperwork which bans him from playing for any other winter league team, be it in Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. Here’s team owner Daniel Aquino, translated by our friend Mr. Collias:
“The paperwork will explain that he didn’t give reasons for abandoning the team. With this document we’re meeting the rules of the Caribbean Baseball Confederation, which assert that no one who abandons a team without good reason can play in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Venezuela … I’d like the fans and everyone else to know that we’re not looking to sanction Clemens. Even less do we wish to do him harm. We’re only following procedure.”
There are rumors floating around that Roger Clemens told Koby to bolt the team for safety reasons following Wilson Ramos’ kidnapping, but Mr. Aquino says that’s baloney, and that the Rocket tried to persuade Koby to stay.
Kids these days.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.