The first step toward adding a 20-second pitch clock for regular-season Major League Baseball games will come immediately as the timing device will be added to spring training games.
In a statement released Friday, MLB said it still has not decided if the 20-second clock will be used in regular-season games this season, but ESPN reported that its addition when the season kicks off in March is a possibility.
MLB revealed a three-part phase for introducing the clock this spring. “In the first spring training games,” the clock will operate, but there will be no enforcement. Its main purpose in the early going is for players, coaches and umpires to get a sense of the timing.
MLB makes no indication of what “first spring training games” specifically means, but they do say that the second part of the plan will take place “early next week.” At that point, umpires will issue reminders to pitchers and hitters who violate the rule. Between innings, umpires will inform each dugout if there were any violations.
The final step of the plan is scheduled to take place “later in spring training.” MLB states that depending on negotiations with the MLB Players’ Association, umpires could start to hand out ball and strike penalties later in March.
The 20-second clock rule is divided into two main parts. The first part refers to the batters, who must be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher at least five seconds before the clock expires. The second part is that pitchers must be in their windup or in a set position when the clock reaches 20 seconds.
The timer will not start with the first pitch of an at-bat, but will be implemented starting with the second pitch.
—Field Level Media