Time is up: Machado commits 1st clock violation

    ESPN MLB insider
    Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”

San Diego Padres star Manny Machado committed the first pitch-clock violation in a spring-training game, getting docked a strike because he was not set and facing the pitcher in the batter’s box when the clock reached 8 seconds.

Facing Seattle left-hander Robbie Ray in one of two games Friday that will serve as a trial run for Major League Baseball’s rules overhaul, Machado had not brought his left foot inside the batter’s box when the clock – which is prominently featured behind the batter and over the outfield fence – wound down. The home-plate umpire, Ryan Blakney, called timeout, pointed to his wrist – the signal for a clock violation – and said “0-1” to denote the new count.

Machado then singled on the first pitch.

Under the league’s new rules, pitchers have 15 seconds to start their delivery when the bases are empty and 20 seconds with runners on base. They are given an automatic ball if the clock expires. The full suite of MLB’s changes – including a ban on defensive shifting, a limitation on pickoff moves and larger bases – was on display for the first time Friday. With all 30 teams scheduled to play Saturday, Friday’s test drive by the Padres and Mariners, as well as the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, showcased what Major League Baseball hopes will be viewed as a new-and-improved version of the game.

League officials have pointed at the pitch clock as potentially transformative, citing its implementation across the minor leagues last year as contributing to an average decrease in game time of 25 minutes. Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the beginning of spring training that MLB not only hopes the clock cuts the time of games and quickens its pace but that all of the rules together help the game better resemble the more action-oriented brand played in the 1970s.

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