In an effort to improve pace of play, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has decided to implement a 20-second pitch clock during all Spring Training games this year to test out its effectiveness.
A pitch clock is something that has been used in Minor League games, but never in the Major Leagues to this point.
Understandably, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is not in favor of the idea and plans to just ignore it this spring unless it becomes a problem, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“I’m not going to pay any attention to it,” the Dodgers left-hander said Monday. “And if I go over it then I go over. I’m not going to change anything I do. I’m not going to pay attention to it one bit, and if it becomes a problem I guess I’ll have to deal with it then. But I think there’s ways to fake it. If it looks like it’s winding down or something you can step off. I’m sure there are ways around it. I’m not too worried about it.”
Fellow left-handed starter Rich Hill echoed Kershaw’s thoughts, saying that he believes it’s unnecessary, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“I don’t really like it,” Hill said. “It’s ridiculous.”
“What’s the end goal of being able to have a time clock?” Hill asked. “Is it to fit baseball games in a three-hour window so we can sell it to networks? I think there has to be a serious conversation about this because I don’t think it’s going to make any difference. We’re going to speed up the game by five minutes? Is that 10 minutes going to make a difference? I don’t think so.
“Or is it somebody else’s agenda because they want to leave their mark on the game to say, ‘Look what I did?’ as opposed to leave the game alone? Leave it alone. In my opinion, it’s great the way it is.”
Both Kershaw and Hill are relatively quick workers when they are on the mound, so they shouldn’t have any issues with the clock. Reliever Pedro Baez, on the other hand, may need to make some significant changes as he is one of the slower workers in all of baseball.
If the experiment this spring works out how Manfred hopes it will, then a pitch clock could go into effect for regular-season games as soon as this March.
Manfred holds the power to unilaterally impose a pitch clock, but has stated his preference is to come to an agreement with the union. If more pitchers like Kershaw and Hill continue to oppose the idea, such an agreement may never come to fruition.