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MLB Announces Mound Visit Limits, But No Pitch Clock

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Major League Baseball announced on Monday it will not introduce pitch clocks for the 2018 season, but will limit the number of mound visits a team can make in a game.

Mound visits without a pitching change will be limited to six per team, per nine innings, with teams getting one additional mound visit if the game goes to extra innings. A mound visit includes a coach or manager walking to the mound, a catcher going to the mound to talk to his pitcher, or a position player leaving his position to speak with the pitcher.

If a team is out of mound visits, catchers may request an additional mound visit in the event he and the pitcher get crossed up, which the umpire may grant at his discretion.

The full text of the new rules regarding mound visits is below:

I.   Mound Visits

(1)                Number.

a.       2018 Championship Season. Mound visits without a pitching change shall be limited to six (6) per team, per nine innings. For any extra-innings played, each Club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning. 

b.       OBR 5.10(l). Official Baseball Rule 5.10(l), which governs mound visits by a manager or coach, remains in effect (i.e., a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager/coach in an inning).

(2) Definition of Mound Visit. A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit. A player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit, except that the following shall not constitute mound visits:

a.       Discussions between pitchers and position player(s) that (i) occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate;

b.       Visits by position players to the mound to clean spikes in rainy conditions;

c.       Visits to the mound due to an injury or potential injury of the pitcher; and

d.       Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution.

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(3) Cross-Up in Signs. In the event a team has exhausted its allotment of mound visits in a game (or extra inning) and the home plate umpire determines that the catcher and pitcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled by the catcher (otherwise referred to as a “cross-up”), the home plate umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit.  Any mound visit resulting from a cross-up prior to a team exhausting its allotted number of visits shall count against a team’s total number of allotted mound visits.

MLB also announced shorter breaks between innings. Breaks between innings for locally televised games will now be 2 minutes, 5 seconds, down from 2:25. Nationally televised games will have 2:25 breaks in between innings, down from 2:45, and postseason games will have 2:55 breaks.

Pitchers must throw their final warm-up pitch by the 20-second mark of the countdown clock with the new adjustments, and will no longer be guaranteed eight warm-up pitches.

There were also rule changes made in regards to video reviews, including that there will be the installation of new phone lines connecting the video review rooms and the dugout, and that communications over those lines will be monitored prevent their use for sign-stealing.

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