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MLB to teams: Pick up the pace

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This is really inside baseball sort of stuff. But some of you may find this press release from Major League Baseball Interesting:

Following a discussion on pace of game at last week’s Owners Meetings in Milwaukee, Major League Baseball held a series of conference calls with each Club’s field manager, general manager and in-game entertainment staff and with all Major League umpire crew chiefs. The calls were organized by MLB’s Baseball Operations Department, headed by Executive Vice President Jimmie Lee Solomon.

During the calls, Major League Baseball advised all participants that umpires will be more vigilant in the enforcement of matters pertaining to the improvement of pace of game efforts, including, but not limited to, Official Baseball Rules 6.02(a), 6.02(b), 6.02(c) and 8.04.

“Improving pace of game is an important goal that will be emphasized,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “Clubs and fans share the common objective of seeing a game that is played as sharply and crisply as possible. We have reminded our staff and our umpires to enforce the rules in order to achieve the progress we need in this area.”

Regarding Rule 6.02, umpires have been asked to:

• Actively call the batter to approach home plate from the on-deck circle and enter the batter’s box.

• Not grant “time” to a batter who asks for time once the pitcher has begun his delivery. If the batter leaves the batter’s box without time and the pitcher delivers a pitch, the umpire will call the pitch as if the batter had not left the box.

• Warn a batter who is lingering outside the batter’s box to return to the box. If the batter refuses to enter the box, the umpire will issue an automatic strike to the batter without a pitch having to be delivered.

Regarding Rule 8.04, umpires have been asked to:

• Actively encourage the pitcher to take his position on the pitching rubber.

• Warn a pitcher for his first violation of the 12-second time limit.

• Issue the pitcher a “ball” for each subsequent violation of the 12-second time limit.

In addition to the reinforcement of the Official Baseball Rules, other measures that will be actively encouraged by the umpires include the following:

• Conferences on the pitcher’s mound will be broken up more quickly, especially when the visitor is not prompt to the mound.

• Pitchers coming from the dugout should arrive at the mound between half-innings so that they can complete their eight warm-up pitches in conjunction with the resumption of play promptly at the appropriate time after the half-inning breaks.

• Pitchers entering from the bullpen should leave the bullpen immediately after being signaled into the game and should arrive at the mound in time to complete their eight warm-up pitchers in conjunction with the resumption of play promptly at the appropriate time after the half-inning breaks.

• Each Club will be directed to have a reserve player or coach available between half-innings to warm up the pitcher when the active catcher is putting on his equipment.

• Batboys will be directed to have a second bat readily available in the event that a hitter’s bat breaks.

Umpires also will be charged with reporting all Clubs that fail to observe MLB regulations regarding in-game entertainment, public address announcements and the playing of music and video presentations.

Clubs will be subject to fines for repeated violations of these requirements.