As we noted before, the Arizona Fall League is being used to test various pace-of-play initiatives. Among them: a 20-second clock for pitchers, shorter breaks between innings and limiting mound visits.
One of those — the pitch clock — is flummoxing some players. From Baseball America:
“I feel like it’s going to throw off the rhythm because guys have their own rhythm and take deep breaths, practice swings, have their routines. It’s just going to make everybody so generic and I feel like that’s taking away what the game has been all about for however many years.”
Los Angeles Dodgers prospect and Glendale Desert Dogs infielder Corey Seager shares a similar sentiment.
“It’s tough,” Seager said. “You almost feel rushed. It’s not your normal (routine) where you can take your time, get your rhythm. It’s kind of on somebody else’s rhythm. It was a little rushed … getting on and off the field, getting your stuff done in the dugout and in the box mainly because you only have 20 seconds between pitches. You swing and then get right back in—it’s a little weird.”
Guys didn’t seem to have any problem “executing pitches” until some time in the late 80s or so, when the pace of each pitch started to grind down. Until around then, the idea of “don’t think, it’ll only hurt the ballclub” held a bit more sway. Maybe it needs to again. For the most part, the routines and habits and rhythms guys have now only exist because they’ve been allowed to exist, not because they are essential to the playing of baseball in the 21st century or anything like that. Once those habits are no longer allowed to exist, they will change and players will adjust.
Mound visit limits are a bigger problem, players say. But it may be a bigger problem in the Fall League, as the catchers and pitchers don’t know each other very well. At least one prospect says it shouldn’t be a problem in the regular season.
In any event, there is no question that the changes will be weird for a while. And that’s the whole point of experimenting with them in the low-leverage world of the Fall League. Here’s hoping everyone gets used to it and that Major League Baseball doesn’t pay too much concern to the minor inconveniences to the players that result.