Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced Friday four rule changes aimed at improving pace of play. News of the changes were first reported by FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.
● Managers must make instant replay challenges from the dugout, rather than the field. This should eliminate the on-field delays that occurred in 2014 while managers chatted with umpires while waiting for coaches or video coordinators to recommend whether a play should be challenged.
● Hitters must keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, unless an established exception occurs. It’s not clear how many exceptions will exist, but during a trial run in the 2014 Arizona Fall League, those conditions included foul balls, foul tips, time being granted by the umpire, and wild pitches.
● Play will resume promptly once television broadcasts return from commercial breaks.
● Timed pitching changes.
Penalties for all violations will start in May and will include minimal fines, not balls, strikes. The idea is to change players’ habits, not penalize them. As with replay, rules will be adjusted as needed during the course of the season.
"Players are willing to consider certain things relating to improving the game," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said. "Players are always interested in doing that. But they are always sensitive to making adjustments that will adversely affect the game. They love it, respect it too much to try and reinvent the wheel in such a way that will damage the game."
With a number of pace-of-play measures in effect — including a pitch clock, which MLB won’t implement for 2015 — games at the test location for the 2014 Arizona Fall League (Salt River Fields at Talking Stick) were 10 minutes shorter, on average, than AFL games the previous year.
MLB also announced other changes to its replay system, allowing a manager to retain his challenge after every call that is overturned. In 2014, a manager kept his challenge only after the first overturned call.
In addition, managers will have two challenges per game during postseason play, regular-season tiebreakers and All-Star Games.