Players, managers react to pace of play rules

Limits to mound visits, timer between innings among new initiatives

February 20th, 2018

Major League Baseball announced its pace of play rules changes for the 2018 season on Monday, and they include some major implementations.
There will now be a limit on a team's mound visits over the course of a game, and a timer between innings and during pitching changes. But there will be no pitch clock yet. The details of the slate of changes can be found here.
With Monday's news, players and managers around baseball have voiced their thoughts on the new rules. is keeping track of their reactions right here.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell
"I do hope we can improve the pace. I would have that goal to do that, and it's going to require some change for all of us. We can't just say 'No' off the bat to that. We have to look at it and try it. I don't know if we'll get a feel for it in the spring, though. I don't think limiting mound visits, you'll get any feel for it in the spring.
"There are times when we slow the game down so we can get players ready in the bullpen. If we are not able to slow the game down, that means we have to get players ready sooner, more throwing, more up-and-downs. … It's just more throwing. More get ready, stop. Get ready, stop. That's something we monitor and are very cognizant of down in the bullpen. We're designed to operate in a way that maximizes their usage and ability to go out there. This, to me, is going to add to what we're going to ask from them."

Marlins manager Don Mattingly
"We talked to the catchers the other day about the mound visits. We talked about different things we'll have to make sure we are able to do differently to adjust to the rules. There's still some gray areas in there. ... In general, we'll have to make some adjustments, on changing signs, things like that. Catchers aren't just going to be able to go out there and change signs because we think the guy on second base is [picking] up signs. We'll have to find another way to do it, and we will. That's something we can do, even through our own set of signs."

Red Sox manager Alex Cora
"I heard about the catcher's visit. I understand we want to speed up the game. I get it. We don't want as much dead time during the game, but that's an interesting one because we know what's going on around the league. Everyone is working hard from second base to take an advantage. And with that we have to be very careful, because I saw it first-hand. Teams are very aware of switching signs and everything that is going on, and there's a lot of cross-up.
"We'll see how it goes. You call a breaking ball, you throw a fastball at 98 and the catcher is looking for a breaking ball and he gets hit -- we're talking about safety and keeping guys on the field. That was the first one I heard about. That's an interesting one. I get it, but there's more into this than just saying, 'Stay back with your delivery and execute pitches,' and that's an important part of the game. There's a lot of teams taking advantage of it, and you have to make sure on a daily basis to win games that everyone is on the same page and getting the signs. I'll see the rest later, but that's a tough one."
Orioles reliever (team representative in players' union)
"The players, we want faster games, too. Maybe it will be a little reminder to eliminate some of the dead time. I'm encouraged that there's not going to be a pitch clock or anything of that sort. It's good to hear, good to know what the rules are going to be for the season."
Brewers catcher
"I think it's a good idea to limit visits as a way to speed it up. Too many times we go to the mound with nothing to say. We're just going to break up the monotony, to do this or do that. I think it's going to help speed up the game a little bit. It's also going to add some strategic things to it. … I think it's going to change some things, and I'm probably going to catch myself from running out there a few times."
Mets manager Mickey Callaway
"To gain an edge in any part of the game, you have to prepare. If we can prepare our catchers and pitchers and their communication better than other teams, maybe we won't get confused like other teams. So we can get an edge because of that rule."

Twins manager Paul Molitor
"If it's [the Commissioner's] mandate, then we're going to have to try to follow it as best we can. So it's just probably giving some thought to when that potentially could come up when you're going to be limited and you might want to save a visit or two, depending on how innings unfold."
On the replay system:
"Well, it's been problematic quite frankly. … It's frustrating because they're so adamant about the time and you know your limitations and yet some of those feeds have dragged. So if they can expedite the process of information, they want a faster process. The better the system, the more likely that will happen."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny
"I'm not surprised because we've had a lot of conversation about it. I'm in full support. The motivation is the information we're getting from our fans. That's something the Commissioner has made a strong priority, and rightfully so. It's great to have the cooperation of the players and everybody kind of coming together. We've got an opportunity to take a step forward.
"It's pretty substantial. You're changing the rules of the game. I think the conversation is still happening. The pitch clock will be a big conversation that will continue to happen. Making an investment in the technology and the replay stuff, then you talk about speeding up in between. I think taking too many steps forward might not be the right strategy, either. … Let's give this a chance to work. See if it picks up [the] pace in terms of dead time, down time."
On how teams can adjust strategy:
"We're wanting the same thing fans are wanting. We want a quick pace. We want to see action. We always have, but there are times when it seems like a guy is throwing gas on a fire every time he throws a ball. At that point, we don't want to keep the same pace. How do we do that? We'll have to be judicious about how we go out to the mound. Sometimes, instead of a visit from a catcher, it'll be, get him ready, make him step off, make him breathe. Do that without a visit."
On maintaining pitcher-catcher communication, for safety, even with fewer visits:
"I think the umpires are as concerned about that as anything else. I'm concerned about our catchers. We'll be changing up signs, too. A lot of times, going out there is to make sure signs are clean. But that's something I believe can happen from behind the plate. Then it falls onto the pitcher. Every one of our catchers understands that every pitcher we have has two different sets of signs. Catchers can handle that. Pitchers will have to get better, that's all there is to it. There is an out there in the release. If there is a question about getting on the same page -- 'I'm trying to give him signs, he's not getting it' -- the umpire will say, 'Get out there!'"
Indians manager Terry Francona
"I understand what they're trying to do. They're trying to take out a lot of dead time in the game without altering the way the game is played. I think there's going to need to be some adjustments. We're going to have to keep track of this stuff. We didn't used to. You just knew if it was your second trip of the inning. But even things like a shortstop running in, things that they do are second nature."

Blue Jays shortstop
"The rules are the rules. You obey them. You adjust. Sometimes it takes a while to adjust to them. Whether you like it or not, it doesn't matter."
On the explanation of what constitutes a mound visit by a position player:
"We'll see how it plays out. It's still new to me. It's new to all of us. I'm still not sure how close you can be, or talking, or what it might be. I don't know the rules exactly, but I think here in spring we'll get to see how it works, and by the time the regular season starts, I think we'll know exactly what we can and can't do."
Joking about his habit of frequently visiting pitchers at the mound:
"If I want the pitcher out of there, I can still do it, right? I can make my own pitching changes, so I kind of like that. I don't have to wait for the pitching coach to come out and give him the hook when I thought the guy should have been out of there two hitters ago."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon
"I'd like to know what the actual numbers are -- catchers to the mound, we to the mound, coaches and managers. For me, a lot of times it is necessary, just based on the moment of the game, whether it's communicative. Communicative in the sense that you think somebody is stealing something, or communicative in that sense that you think a guy needs to hear something different, a different message, a 'Slow it down' or 'Just breathe.' There are little micro messages that are delivered. Whatever the number is, I'll abide by it."
On adjustments the team will have to make:
"We'll have to figure out a more non-verbal method of communication. We're not going to be texting, I promise you that, even if we could. We'll just have to figure a better way or different way."
"It's going to be a new normal -- you have to learn how to do it, so you do it."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy
"I think at times the game should be sped up in areas. So I'm all in on this."
On visits to the mound:
"I'm all in on the number of visits to the mound, too. I've said for a while now, for two or three years, that's one of the biggest reasons this game has slowed down, if you look at the number of visits to the mound. I know players are trying to help their pitchers, but throughout the infield, guys are going to the mound. The catcher's going to the mound. He comes back and the pitching coach is going out there."
Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta
"I guess we'll find out how it goes. The players have been committed to streamlining the game and making it more efficient. We've definitely identified that we need to make it a little more efficient, and the players have really worked hard to come up with ways to do those things."
On whether many of the mound visits were unnecessary in retrospect:
"Given the free rein to do whatever you like, I think every visit is necessary. In an environment where you can, it serves a purpose for some reason -- slow a game down, slow a pitcher down, whatever it may be. Obviously, we're in a new environment where we're trying to streamline the game and maintain the integrity of the game.
"It could be beneficial. We'll see. It's one of those things we have to let play out. I don't want to be repetitive."
Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu
"It's the sign-stealing, honestly. There are a lot of ways people can steal signs right now in the game. As an infielder, you're always a little leery of people trying to steal signs. It's a huge advantage if you have the signs. But with six mound visits, it's pretty manageable to stay under that."