It’s March! Spring training has begun! If you followed along to Sunday’s game you might have noticed something strange happening in the bottom of the first. It just…ended?
The new spring training rules announcement by the league last Friday flew a little under the radar.
Basically, all games through March 13th will have a few different rule changes. Games can be shortened to up to five innings upon mutual manager agreement. The three-batter minimum for a pitcher won’t be enforced. And the most game altering rule, which we saw early in the game yesterday, was the defensive manager having the ability to end an inning before getting three outs if the pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches.
On March 14th, games can still be shortened but only to seven innings and the three-batter minimum will be enforced. Pretty much normal baseball will be back with innings no longer ending before three outs.
Also, in all spring training games pitchers will now be allowed to re-enter the game at any point and games can end in ties.
The uniqueness of these rules sets up for some potentially confusing moments this spring but the intention of MLB is there. The league wants to give teams more flexibility in preparing for the season. There are both benefits and drawbacks to these new rules of play.
These new rules give a lot of flexibility to how teams can manage their pitchers during spring training. Less garbage time innings means less arms needed to get through each game. Allowing pitchers to be pulled at any point lessens the strain that can come from pitching in intense situations where runners are on. This could salvage a lot of pitch confidence that gets lost in the spring. It also slightly reduces the likelihood of injuries, which no one wants to see in spring training.
The shorter games will also result in a better viewing experience. Let’s face it, no matter how big of a fan you are, it’s extremely difficult to stay into a full spring training game from start to finish on TV.
Baseball purists might argue that allowing the defensive manager to end an inning early is too radical of a change for the game even in spring training. It’s certainly tinkering with a fundamental piece of the game and could result in some wonky innings where the hitting team could get the bases loaded with no outs but the inning gets declared over. Yeah, it’s just spring training but should the game be altered this much?
While shorter games mean less strain on arms, it also means less opportunity for players to establish themselves. For players on the fringe of making a roster or younger players who are at big league camp for the first time, spring training is an invaluable time to get in front of a major league audience of coaches and executives. Careers are on the line and the loss of late inning at-bats and pitches will hurt them the most.
What do you think? Answer the poll below and let your thoughts be heard in the comments below.
Do you like the rule changes made to spring training?
This poll is closed
Yeah, why not? It’s only spring training.
No. They’re messing with the game too much.
Don’t care. Call me when the season starts.
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