International pitch clock rule proving a success at Major League Baseball Spring Training

International pitch clock rule proving a success at Major League Baseball Spring Training
The first reports of the pitching clock on Spring Training games show a decrease in the average duration of games with veteran players supporting the new initiative.

Using a pitch clock is part of the much anticipated Major League Baseball (MLB) rule changes and has already impacted Spring Training games.

The pitch clock, already in use in WBSC competitions since 2019, aims at improving the pace of play. Pitchers have up to 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and up to 20 seconds with at least one runner on base. A hitter must be in the batter's box with at least eight seconds remaining.

NBC Sports reported about the San Francisco Giants Spring Training Games. The average duration of the first 11 games was two hours and 36 minutes. The Giants' games during the 2022 regular season averaged three hours and eight minutes.

Umpires have been strict in complying with the rule. On the first Spring Training game, Manny Machado, a five-time All-Star in the fifth year of a 10-year contract with the San Diego Padres worth US$300 million, became the first hitter punished for a pitch clock violation.

Machado represented the Dominican Republic in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and is on the roster for the 2023 edition.

On 25 February, a Spring Training game between the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves ended on a strike called for a pitch clock violation by the hitter, minor leaguer Cal Conley. On a bases-loaded, full-count situation, Conley failed to get ready within 12 seconds from when Red Sox pitcher Robert Kwiatowsky caught the ball.

For the record, the game ended on a 6-6 tie.

It is still a question of whether the umpires will be as strict during the regular season. The players, for now, don't seem to have anything against the rule.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Madison Bumgarner, a veteran who started 351 games over nine MLB seasons and helped the San Francisco Giants win three World Series, said after his first Spring Training start that he likes the pitch clock the most, "out of all the rule changes" he has experienced over his career.