NORTH PORT, Florida — The importance of both pitchers and batters adjusting to baseball’s new pitch timing rules was evident Saturday afternoon, when an automatic strike sealed a 6-6 tie between the Braves and Red Sox at CoolToday Park.
Plate umpire John Lipka ended the game when he issued the automatic strikeout with the bases loaded, two outs, and a complete count against Braves second baseman Cal Conley. Lipca ruled that Conley was not ready to hit at the right time.
The rules, which are being implemented for the 2023 season, state that the batter must be in the box and alert the pitcher when there are eight seconds on the clock. The catcher must be in the box behind home plate with nine seconds on the clock, standing or squatting.
The mixture should be ready on its own – it does not depend on squatting. So, as a league official confirmed, the right call was made.
“These are the things that tell you why we started this now,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “You never know what might happen. This example shows you what could happen.”
Red Sox reliever Robert Kwiatkowski was ready on the mound as catcher Elijah Marrero was slightly off the plate adjusting something on his wrist as the pitch timer reached eight seconds. Lipka threw up his arms and pointed at Conley, who was heading towards first base thinking a mechanical four had been called.
“We’ve been talking about it,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We’d look at the clock and go, ‘Something’s going to happen here.'” Actually, because Elle was out, 3-2, twice, he said to the players, the runners are going, go first. But he needs to get back up with nine seconds left. Then it happened.”
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