Tribe clubhouse mixed about pace-of-game initiatives
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There were mixed reviews inside the Indians' clubhouse on Friday after Major League Baseball announced rule changes aimed at improving the pace of games.
Count Cleveland manager Terry Francona among those who are in favor of MLB's efforts to speed things up on the playing field. Francona feels the league has done a good job of researching and testing some of the rules before implementing them in the big leagues, and believes players will grow used to the changes over time.
"It's something I know that MLB has been really, not only talking about, but investigating and doing research in the [Arizona] Fall League and in the Minor Leagues," Francona said on Friday. "I'm a fan of what they're trying to do. ... As time progresses, it won't be much of an issue. I think early on, you're going to see some hiccups. Guys are used to doing certain things, but as we've kind of noticed with some of these changes, MLB has been really good about explaining stuff to us."
Here is a brief overview of the rule changes:
• Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), which requires hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to certain exceptions.
• Timers will be used to ensure that the game resumes promptly at the end-of-inning breaks.
• Managers will no longer come out of the dugout to initiate a replay challenge. A manager will also keep his challenge after each call that is overturned. Last year, a challenge was retained only after the first overturned call.
Indians outfielder Nick Swisher, who has spent 11 years in the big leagues, had a different take on the situation.
"This is the greatest game ever made. You don't need to mess with it," Swisher said. "Then again, there are rules and the game is changing. We just have to adapt to that. If they think this is what's better, what am I going to say to change it? I just feel like they're really trying to make strides that don't really need to be changed.
"Like, [the clock], this ain't basketball. This isn't a game where you show up and there's a time limit. That's what's great about the game of baseball. There is no time limit."
The clock to be used during breaks is something Francona likes a lot.
"I think the clock is actually really good," said the manager. "I think it makes it easier for the pitchers. When they see the clock, they know, 'Hey, man, when it hits zero, we're ready to go.' They can throw as many [warmup] pitches as they want and when the clock says go, let's go. I think that's a really good idea."
Indians prospect Francisco Lindor played in the Arizona Fall League in October and said neither the use of a clock, nor the rule about keeping one foot in the box, had a negative effect on the games.
"I don't really think it's going to be a big deal," Lindor said. "[Players] were fine with it. We didn't have a major reaction. Some guys liked it and some guys didn't, but that's just part of the game. Hopefully, they don't go too crazy with it and keep the game simple. I liked it. I wasn't mad about it."
Francona smirked when asked how former Indian Mike Hargrove -- known as "The Human Rain Delay" during his playing career in the 1970s and '80s -- would have handled the new rules.
"Grover would be playing for free, because he'd be fined," Francona said. "No, he would've changed. It was never addressed, so that was just his way of doing it. You see guys like David Ortiz, they're going to have to make some adjustments. But, believe me, guys can. It's just a matter of repetition and being in routine, and I think also common sense has to play some role in it, too.
"[MLB] obviously spent a lot of time researching this, because they never want to get in the way of a well-played game. It'll be interesting to see some of the adjustments. The hope is that you don't start to see personalities clash and things like that. You want to see a well-played game."