Experimental pace of game initiatives will be game-tested during play at the 2014 Arizona Fall League, Major League Baseball announced today. The wide-ranging plan being implemented in AFL play was developed by MLB's new Pace of Game Committee, which was officially announced on September 22nd.
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said: "The Pace of Game Committee is eager to test various ideas - ranging from the incremental to the dramatic - in order to learn more, and we are fortunate to have a setting in which we can do exactly that. We will work with the appropriate parties - including players, umpires, our partners, our fans and many other contributors to our game - to form effective pace of game recommendations that will fit the Major League level."
Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, the chairman of the Pace of Game Committee, said: "Our committee members have many practical ideas about how we can improve our pace of game. The Arizona Fall League will be a terrific platform during which we can experiment with these ideas and take away some lessons in the hope of streamlining the pace of play."
Experimental pace of game rules will be in place for all AFL games and will include the following:
The 20-second clock shall begin when the pitcher is in possession of the ball, regardless of whether the batter is in the box or otherwise alert to the pitcher; provided, however, that (1) with respect to the first pitch to each batter, the clock shall begin when the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher, (2) with respect to a pitch to a batter following a play in which the pitcher was involved as a fielder (including backing up throws), the clock shall begin when the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher, and the pitcher has entered the dirt circle to approach the pitcher's plate to begin pitching to the batter, and (3) after a hitter fouls off a pitch, the clock shall begin when the umpire points to the pitcher and says "Play." Please note that the Official Baseball Rules governing quick pitches still apply.
The clock will stop only when the pitcher begins his motion to deliver the ball (and not "when the pitcher releases the ball" as prescribed in Rule 8.04). Beginning the motion of coming to the set position shall be sufficient to stop the clock. If the pitcher maintains possession of the ball without beginning his pitching motion for more than 20 seconds, the Umpire shall call "Ball." The umpire shall give the pitcher a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position on the pitcher's plate after the umpire has called a ball and before the umpire calls a successive ball pursuant to this Rule.
The Arizona Fall League, the game's premiere, off-season developmental platform, is administered by Major League Baseball.
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