Palm Beach, Fla. ( Associated Press) – Jeff McNeil thinks he’ll adjust well to a big change in Major League Baseball.
“I’ll be playing second base regularly instead of short right field. I’ve played second base my whole life, so it shouldn’t be hard to adjust,” said the star infielder for the Major League Baseball batting champion New York Mets.
Spring training begins Monday in Florida and Arizona for players who will need to report before the World Baseball Classic. The rest of the pitchers and catchers will start work after two days.
After an offseason with record spending, in which the New York Mets closed on a $370 million payroll, the March 30 season opener will feature three of the biggest changes since the 1969 season lowered payroll.
– There should be two infielders on each side of second base. And all infielders must be within the outer limits of the infield when the pitcher makes contact with the plate.
The base size will be 15 to 18 square inches (96 to 116 square centimeters), reducing the distance by four and a half inches (11 centimeters).
– A 15-second pitcher’s clock with no runners on base and a 20-second clock with runners will be used.
“It’s been an eight-year effort,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged Thursday as the experiment was drawn up. “I hope we get what the fans want – speed, more action and athleticism.”
The preseason started last year was delayed by a month due to the lockout, and many players struggled to sign deals soon after the camps opened.
This offseason has gone more normally, and some of the focus will be on stars with new teams: Jacob deGrom (Texas), Justin Verlander (Mets), Trey Turner (Philadelphia) and Xander Bogarts (San Diego).
Other teams will have new managers such as Bruce Bochy (Texas), Matt Quattro (Kansas City), Pedro Grifol (Chicago White Sox) and Skip Shoemaker (Miami).
Those drivers will face very different challenges than John McGraw and Connie Mack, or even Earl Weaver and Billy Martin.
Baseball’s timeless era lasted nearly a century and a half in a sport obsessed with its pioneers, dressed in their flannel uniforms and depicted in sepia-colored photographs.
“There is no clock in baseball,” wrote Richard Greenberg in his work “Take Me Out.” “What could be more generous than giving everyone these opportunities and the time to take advantage of them?”
It turns out that downtime has become a nuisance during an era of short attention spans and multiple shows competing for viewers.
The average length of a nine-inning game was two and a half hours in the mid-1950s and rose to 2:46 in 1989 and 3:10 in 2021, before falling slightly to 3:04 the previous year when the Pitchcom electronic device was implemented. I went. Send hints about pitches.
“I love pitch watch,” said Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash. “It speeds up the game. They take that long. If we’re facing the Red Sox or the Yankees, the game goes on for four hours.”
Slightly stricter clock use in the minors (14 and 19 seconds at Triple-A and 14 and 18 at the lower levels) reduced the average duration of a game from 3:03 hours in 2021 to 2:38 last year.
“I think there will probably be some incidents in April, it’s inevitable,” admitted Cleveland manager Terry Francona.