Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Pirates
news

Taillon pleased with new rules

Single Trade Deadline and decreased mound visits among changes
@adamdberry
March 14, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon, the Pirates’ representative for the Major League Baseball Players Association, was generally pleased with the rule changes announced jointly by MLB and the MLBPA on Thursday morning. The changes will go into effect over the next two years. This season, there will

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon, the Pirates’ representative for the Major League Baseball Players Association, was generally pleased with the rule changes announced jointly by MLB and the MLBPA on Thursday morning.

The changes will go into effect over the next two years. This season, there will be shorter inning breaks, a single Trade Deadline on July 31, a new All-Star Game voting system, greater rewards for winning the Home Run Derby and a reduction from six to five mound visits per game. Next year, active rosters will increase from 25 to 26 players until Sept. 1, when rosters will shrink from 40 to 28; there will also be a rule that pitchers must face at least three batters unless they’re ending a half-inning, and the injured list will once again mandate a 15-day stay.

More than anything, Taillon was happy to see MLB and the players’ union work together and come to an agreement on those changes.

“For me, it shows that there’s some mutual interest in benefiting the game,” Taillon said. “I think it shows goodwill on both sides that, even though things have been a little tense, we still both care about the state of the game.”

There will now be two rounds of All-Star voting: a “primary round” like the previous system and an “Election Day” to determine the starters. The winner of the Home Run Derby will now receive $1 million, creating more incentives for the game’s best sluggers to participate.

“I think Major League Baseball has one of the best All-Star Games, I really do. I think the Home Run Derby is one of the best events for pro sports,” Taillon said. “I think making something bigger out of our All-Star Game is great. Those are the best players in our sport that year. Any way we can promote them a little more is great.”

Taillon said that having a single Trade Deadline -- and doing away with the August trade waiver period -- should “put players a little more at ease.” In 2013, the Pirates acquired veterans Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau during the waiver trade period. Over the past few years, they moved veterans like Juan Nicasio, David Freese and Adeiny Hechavarria after they fell out of contention.

Pirates pitchers might not be affected much by the three-batter-minimum rule, because manager Clint Hurdle rarely deploys relievers strictly as specialists. There were only 38 instances last season of a Pirates pitcher facing fewer than three batters in an appearance, the second-lowest total in the Majors and only one more than the Yankees. Taillon said players will keep an eye on the impact of the rule, even though they understand it could lead to quicker games.

“You don’t want to take away from the strategy of the game. Playing matchups is a part of our game,” Taillon said. “But I think at the same time, this move was made to speed up the game a little bit. I think we’re talking about maybe a couple guys that it could affect. We’ll see how it goes.”

Game report

The Pirates beat the Phillies, 11-2, at LECOM Park on Thursday behind five strong innings from starter Trevor Williams. Adam Frazier, Corey Dickerson, Colin Moran, Kevin Newman and Starling Marte each went deep for the Bucs.

Williams allowed three hits and struck out four out over five innings. His infield defense did him no favors in the third inning, when Josh Bell committed an error and Moran made two more that led to an unearned run.

“There’s no doubt all our pitchers are probably going to have situations where they’ll have to get more than three outs,” Hurdle said. “Seven is too many to have to go get, and he went and got them. The pitch execution was fantastic in that inning.”

Williams deftly worked around those mistakes, inducing soft contact with a mix of fastballs, changeups and sliders. Williams also struck out Shane Robinson on a 78-mph curveball, a pitch he’s been working on this spring.

“Able to pitch through some adversity and get some quick-out innings when I needed to and, if this was in the season, save myself an inning or two by getting some quick outs at the end,” Williams said.

Injury update

• Right-hander Jordan Lyles, who exited Tuesday’s game after two innings due to cramping in his right side, was scheduled to be reevaluated after playing catch on Thursday. The Pirates do not anticipate Lyles being sidelined for long.

• Catcher Elias Diaz (virus) is taking part in “light” baseball activities, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said. With Opening Day only two weeks away, Diaz likely will begin the season on the injured list.

• Right fielder Gregory Polanco (left shoulder) is throwing from 120 feet and taking part in outfield drills. Polanco said his arm is getting stronger, but the Pirates are focused on shortening his throwing motion so he can quickly hit the cut-off man. Polanco went 0-for-4 with a walk and slid home feet-first as the designated hitter in a Triple-A game at Pirate City on Thursday.

“My arm’s feeling better, getting stronger with throws,” Polanco said. “Now I’m getting the backspin on the ball when I throw. That’s very important. Hitting doesn’t bother me at all.”

• Dickerson (right ankle) returned to the lineup for the first time since Saturday and went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer to center as the DH.

• Righty Brandon Maurer (right knee) allowed one run in the ninth in his first appearance since Feb. 26.

Up next

Right-hander Joe Musgrove will make his Grapefruit League debut as the Pirates play their only night game of the spring on Friday at LECOM Park. Musgrove will get the start against the Rays at 6:05 p.m. ET with the back-end bullpen quartet of Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez also scheduled to take the mound. The game will air on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, KDKA-FM and the Pirates Radio Network.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.