Major League Baseball and the players’ union on Thursday made official some rules changes, such as the no-pitch intentional walk, that have been reported in the past month.
Most of the rules announced Thursday are aimed at speeding the pace of the game. The no-pitch intentional walk—a manager can signal a free pass by communicating with the home plate umpire—is the primary example.
Managers also now have a 30-second time limit for deciding whether to challenge a play and ask for a replay review.
Beyond the new intentional walk and replay time limit, the changes include the following:
• When a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, the umpire crew chief may now invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning instead of the seventh inning.
• A conditional two-minute guideline for replay officials to render a decision on a replay review, allowing various exceptions.
• A prohibition on the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.
• An addition to Rule 5.07 formalizes an umpire interpretation by stipulating that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b). This is commonly being called the “Carter Capps” rule, for the Padres’ reliever’s unusual delivery. Capps and Padres manager Andy Green said today, however, that Capps’ delivery is legal.
• An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch. Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.