With the Opening Day of the 2017 season just about one month away, Major League Baseball recently came to an agreement with the MLB players association on multiple rule changes that will go into affect at the beginning of the season.
Now official is the bypassing of throwing four balls to complete an intentional walk. Instead, a manager can simply signal from the dugout for an intentional walk, and the batter will immediately be awarded first base.
Further effort by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to improve pace and action amounts to a change with the replay preview process. Managers will now be limited to 30 seconds for a decision on whether they would like to request a replay.
In addition, umpires (replay officials) in New York will have just two minutes to review a play. The Crew Chief retains the ability to decide if a play should be reviewed in the event a manager no longer has challenges available.
However, the Crew Chief will now only be able to do so from the eighth inning on. They previously were permitted to call for a review beginning in the seventh inning.
Another change for the 2017 season include teams no longer being able to utilize markers on the field for positioning purposes, and the third base coach now must remain in the coaching box when a pitch is delivered. Coaches are allowed to move to direct a baserunner once the ball is in play.
In what figures to most impact San Diego Padres reliever Carter Capps, pitchers can no longer take a second step toward home plate with either foot, or reset their pivot foot in the delivery of a pitch. If there is a runner on base then a balk will be called, and if the bases are empty then the pitch will be ruled illegal.
The proposed change to shrink the strike zone was shot down by the players association.