Despite new MLB rules being implemented during Spring Training, there still figures to be some adjusting during the regular season, which occurred for Will Smith during the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Opening Day matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Smith finished with game-highs three hits and four RBI in the Dodgers’ 8-2 win. His final RBI came on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning during a plate appearance against Diamondbacks relief pitcher Kevin Ginkel that twice was stopped by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson and included an automatic ball called.
“He came set a little too early, I guess. The umpires are trying to protect the hitter and not let pitchers quick pitch,” Smith explained after the game.
“So he came set a little bit and they gave him a warning, which reset the clock. He was ready to go, but I’m not going to get in the box until there’s 12 seconds every time. There was still 18 or 19, so I was just kind of waiting and he was ready to go so he came set again. Just a little weird, but it worked out in my favor because I got a ball.”
Under the MLB guidelines, hitters must be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher only by eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock. The league sent multiple memos to clarify and update their new rules, and among the focuses was preventing quick-pitch scenarios.
“You’ve got to be in control and know all those little things,” Smith said of the detailed rules. “If not, you’re going to get penalized really quick for it.”
Even with an anticipation there will be growing pains for potentially a “few months,” Smith is among those who are embracing the pitch clock.
The Dodgers’ time of game for Opening Day was 2 hours and 35 minutes.
“It just moves and you don’t get stuck in those four-hour games anymore,” Smith said.
Why Will Smith bats third in Dodgers lineup
Among the changes to the new-look Dodgers lineup this season is Smith likely batting third. Last season it was a spot occupied by Freddie Freeman, who now hits second.
One of Smith’s three hits on Thursday was going with a pitch that was low and away.
“He just did a nice job making an adjustment,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s why I feel confident with Will hitting where he does. His bat-to-ball, there’s slug in there and he knows how to drive in a run.”
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