Lovullo adjusting to new mound-visit rules

February 24th, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The new rules this season limiting the amount of mound visits during a game are going to take a little while to get used to, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo discovered after Friday's Cactus League opener.

Under the new rules, teams are allowed only six mound visits in a game, with certain exceptions.

Though the rule is not being enforced early in spring, Lovullo said veteran umpire Jim Reynolds asked him Friday if he wanted to be notified of when a visit would be charged during the regular season. Lovullo told him yes, and noticed how easy it is for players to lose track of the rule.

"It's a little unnerving, because you train your catchers to go out there when things speed up on the pitcher," Lovullo said. "You train a lot of people to pay attention on a level where they're going to slow the game down and allow that pitcher to get himself back under control. That's a new normal we're getting used to."

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Shortstop walked to the mound to briefly talk to the pitcher at one point, and when Reynolds signaled that it would have counted, it was something Lovullo noted, because each visit has to have importance now.

"I think we have to be careful, because I think Marte went out there once, and just a batter later, [pitching coach] Mike Butcher had to go back out there," Lovullo said. "We just have to stay ahead of things and be careful knowing that they add up quickly."

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When catcher Michael Perez made a second visit to the mound during the game, Lovullo sent Butcher out there at the same time to, "make it a really worthwhile mound visit, and give him some instructions."

The visit limits will also impact the timing of pitching changes for Lovullo.

"Matt Koch was getting to a certain pitch count, and we like to use a mound visit to allow somebody that's in the bullpen to get warm," Lovullo said. "Every manager, everybody in baseball does that. Well, you can't do that anymore. It might mean that some pitchers are getting hot and having to sit down and wait. Instead, my strategy is to have them ramp up, and once they get there, they're in the game and time it. It might be a little adjustment for all of us."

Adjustments? Yes. Complaints? None.

"Like I said from the very start, we will cooperate 100 percent with Major League Baseball," Lovullo said. "We're not going to gripe about it. We know what the rules are, and we're just having to get used to the new normal."