On your mark, get set: Managers ready for mound sprints
NEW YORK (AP) — In addition to timing batters going from home to first and runners sprinting from first to third, baseball might have a new drill this spring training: the race from the dugout to the pitcher’s mound.
Managers and pitching coaches will be limited to 30 seconds on their visits to the mound, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. The goal is to inject some hustle and further speed the pace of games.
“You’ll see some pitching coaches trying to get in shape,” Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Visits will be timed by the countdown clocks that were installed at big league ballparks last year, starting when the manager or coach leaves the dugout and an umpire grants time. Unless there’s a pitching change, they’ve got to leave before the clock reaches zero.
Of course, pitchers could try to meet them halfway — at the baseline — to gain some extra seconds of talk time.
MLB and the players’ association also agreed to cut between-innings breaks by 20 seconds this year, to 2:05 for most games and 2:25 for nationally televised matchups
“I’m going to have to keep my legs loose, so I can jog out to the mound,” Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “Sometimes you need a little extra time when you make a trip because you want to get something across. Especially if you bring infielders in, you want to make sure if we have a certain play on that they understand.”
With the countdown clock and attempts to enforce hitters to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box in many instances, the average time of a nine-inning game dropped from 3:02 in 2014 to 2:56 last year.
“I’m moving much better,” Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re just trying to minimize dead time. There was a time where 30 seconds would have been hard for me — two years ago, to get out there in 30 seconds, I needed that little red flag they give on the golf course, sometimes. But I’m good now.”
AP freelance writers Mike Cranston and Mark Didtler contributed to this report.