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.
—Manny Machado was unveiled at an introductory press conference and expressed how thrilled he is to be a member of the San Diego Padres.
Machado received a 10-year, $300 million contract to sign with the Padres but it was apparently more than the big pile of cash that swayed his decision.
“I liked the game plan, from ownership to front office to the coaching staff to the players,” Machado said during a press conference in Peoria, Ariz. “The whole ‘shabam’ was so perfect.”
—Suitors are still on hold for free-agent slugger Bryce Harper, but the Washington Nationals are supposedly done waiting.
“We’ve moved on,” said Mark Lerner, Nationals principal owner, in an interview with NBC Sports Washington.
With Machado’s deal, Harper’s signing could be imminent. He reportedly turned down a $300 million offer from the Nationals, who tried to keep the homegrown MVP in September, and reportedly shook off several other teams who were in the same ballpark.
—After missing out on signing Machado, the Chicago White Sox added pitching help, agreeing to a minor league deal with right-hander Ervin Santana, multiple outlets reported.
Santana will get an invitation to big-league camp at spring training and will earn a $4.3 million salary if he makes the roster, according to ESPN.
Since the end of the 2017 season, 36-year-old Santana has been having issues with his right middle finger, a wear-and-tear problem that required surgery last spring. He pitched just 24 2/3 innings for the Minnesota Twins last year, going 0-1 with an 8.03 ERA.
—Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw will take a break from throwing for at least a few days after he was not pleased with a recent pitching session to his own teammates at spring training.
“Just an arm kind of thing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters at spring training in Glendale, Ariz. “No one is alarmed or worried.”
The first sign of trouble came Wednesday when Kershaw was reportedly unhappy with a bullpen session. He was given the day off Thursday. Kershaw has already been announced as the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter.
—The Minnesota Twins and versatile Marwin Gonzalez agreed on a two-year, $21 million contract, according to multiple reports.
Gonzalez will reportedly receive $12 million this season and $9 million in 2020. The deal is pending Gonzalez passing a physical.
Gonzalez spent the past seven seasons with the Houston Astros and was a key figure on the club’s 2017 World Series championship team. He established career highs of a .303 average and 23 homers and 90 RBIs in 134 games that season.
—A bout of right elbow stiffness will keep Cincinnati Reds starter Sonny Gray from making his first start of spring training, the team announced.
Gray was supposed to start Saturday in Goodyear, Ariz., against the Cleveland Indians, but right-hander Tanner Roark will take that assignment instead.
“It is nothing I’m overly worried about,” Gray told reporters in Reds camp Friday morning. “I’ll start throwing (again) in the next couple of days.”
—The Los Angeles Angels have brought aboard another option for their bullpen, signing left-hander Dan Jennings to a minor league contract with an invitation to big-league camp at spring training.
Jennings, who turns 32 in April, appeared in 72 games with the Milwaukee Brewers last season, posting a 3.22 ERA with one save. It was the second consecutive season he had appeared in at least 70 games. In 2017, he had 77 combined appearances with the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Angels were 13th in the majors last season with a 3.92 ERA from their bullpen, and seventh best in the American League.
—Field Level Media