WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will install pitch clocks for Grapefruit and Cactus League games ahead of a possible implementation during the 2019 regular season, Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters at Grapefruit League Media Day on Sunday.The 20-second clocks, which have been used in the Minors since
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will install pitch clocks for Grapefruit and Cactus League games ahead of a possible implementation during the 2019 regular season, Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters at Grapefruit League Media Day on Sunday.
The 20-second clocks, which have been used in the Minors since 2015, will be phased in this spring in order to allow players and umpires to get comfortable with the system. Manfred said more details about the structure of that rollout will be announced by MLB later this week.
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The purpose, Manfred said, is to "start getting ready for the possibility that we're going to use the pitch clock on Opening Day."
That will happen if the MLB Players Association agrees to the proposal, or if MLB chooses to use its collectively bargained right to implement it unilaterally. Under the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Commissioner has the right to impose rule changes if the MLBPA is given at least a year of notice.
A pitch clock was originally proposed two years ago, meaning that Manfred could have imposed a pitch clock without MLBPA approval last year. Instead, the league and the Players Association decided to make other pace-of-play changes instead -- such as a limit on mound visits -- with the thought that a pitch clock could be revisited in the future. On Sunday, the Commissioner said he has not yet decided whether he would unilaterally impose a pitch clock for the upcoming regular season.
Manfred later confirmed that there are no other rule changes planned for Spring Training. Other proposed pace-of-play initiatives, including a rule that would require pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, cannot be enforced for the 2019 season without the approval of the MLBPA. To this point, that hasn't happened.
Manfred added that while discussions about banning or limiting defensive shifts remain ongoing, there are no current plans to regulate how teams align their defenders.
"It is controversial internally in that some people believe if we just eliminated the shift, we could kind of get baseball back to a natural state," Manfred said. "Other people think that eliminating the shift is likely to have outcomes that are unforeseeable for us. It does divide our group a little bit in terms of whether or not they're in favor of eliminating or regulating the shifts."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.