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Servais, players eager to see impact of new rules

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- New Mariners manager Scott Servais said he's not too concerned with the new MLB rule limiting mound visits to 30 seconds, but he does have questions about how the change allowing replay challenges on the "neighborhood" out calls at second base might impact games this coming season.

MLB announced several rule changes on Thursday. The pace of play changes include further tightening the time between innings as well as starting a clock to limit the time managers or pitching coaches have to visit the mound as soon as they emerge from the dugout.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- New Mariners manager Scott Servais said he's not too concerned with the new MLB rule limiting mound visits to 30 seconds, but he does have questions about how the change allowing replay challenges on the "neighborhood" out calls at second base might impact games this coming season.

MLB announced several rule changes on Thursday. The pace of play changes include further tightening the time between innings as well as starting a clock to limit the time managers or pitching coaches have to visit the mound as soon as they emerge from the dugout.

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Servais doesn't see that one changing things too much from his end, given he's a first-year manager who never has meandered out to the mound at a slow pace in the past. Whether he needs to work on his footspeed remains to be seen.

"There are some managers that sprint out to the mound," he said. "Everybody has their own style. I don't know what mine is yet. I haven't done that. So we'll work on that as well."

Catcher Mike Zunino is curious how the quickened visits will play out, however.

"No more long strolls, I guess," Zunino said. "It'll definitely be interesting when we've got somebody warming up and we need to watch their time or something like that, but hopefully that's just stuff that cleans things up and keeps the pace of the game moving really well."

Video: Players, managers react to news of rule updates

The new sliding rules, which force runners to take a more direct route to the bag when trying to break up double plays, will require some adjustment by players. But Servais is more curious about the change to making the "neighborhood play" -- where middle infielders have been allowed to just be near the second base bag on relay throws when avoiding contact -- subject to review.

That will force infielders to make adjustments against sliding runners and the plays could become a frequent point of contention.

"I'll be curious to see how that affects pace of play because I believe a lot of managers will be challenging that play," Servais said. "We've got to talk about it and re-teach it with our players and let them know it's going to be important. The veteran players are used to doing it a certain way, so they're going to have to hang in there a little longer."

Will it raise dangerous situations for players?

"It could," Servais said. "But Major League Baseball makes the rules and we'll play by them."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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