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MLB and MLBPA announce modifications of some rules for 2017 season

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Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association jointly announced modifications of some rules effective for the 2017 regular season.

  • As was announced last month, managers will signal to the home plate umpire that he wants to intentionally walk the current batter.
  • Managers now have 30 seconds to decide to challenge an umpire’s ruling and invoke replay review
  • When a manager has used up all of his available challenges, the crew chief can invoke replay review for non-home run calls starting in the eighth inning
  • Replay officials will be under a conditional two-minute guideline for review, though there is room for exceptions
  • Players are no longer allowed to make markers on the field (this was an issue last year in a game between the Mets and Dodgers)
  • An amendment to Rule 5.07 now formalizes the balk rule. Specifically, “A pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.  If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a).  If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).” Think of this as the Carter Capps rule.
  • Rule 5.03 has also been amended. It “requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch.  Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.”

Nothing earth-shattering here. The intentional walk rule is obviously the biggest and most controversial change as we’ve seen in the last two weeks. Commissioner Rob Manfred has been quite focused on improving the pace of play. Certainly, making replay review wrap up quicker will help in that regard. Even better would be to do away with the challenge system entirely.

The field marker rule was mostly done to address an issue that came up last May after the Mets hosted the Dodgers at Citi Field. The Dodgers wanted to mark certain positions in the grass after determining positions with a rangefinder. The Mets did not allow it and later asked Major League Baseball for clarification.

The amendment to Rule 5.07 provides clarification for special cases like Capps, who’s now with the Padres:

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.