Reds Opening Day: Pitch clock, bigger bases and other changes fans will notice

Posted at 11:14 PM, Mar 29, 2023

CINCINNATI — Heading to the ballpark for Reds opening day? If so, be prepared for some major changes (and hopefully shorter game time).

Major League Baseball is introducing multiple new rules for the 2023 season, including a pitch clock that should speed up the pace of play. Teams have been playing with the new clock throughout spring training, but it may take some getting used to.

Pitch clock

Blue Jays to play in Buffalo minor league park amid pandemic
Home plate umpire Seth Buckminster signals for the pitch as Buffalo Bisons batter Josh Thole (22) steps into the box as a 20-second pitch clock winds down at left, during a Triple-A baseball game between the Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Red Wings in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, April 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Pitchers will have 15 seconds between pitches if the bases are empty. If there is a baserunner, they'll get 20 seconds. The MLB rules state the pitcher must start his delivery before the clock expires. After the pitch, the clock will start again as soon as the pitcher has the ball back and both the catcher and batters are in the circle around home plate.

Batters get one timeout per plate appearance and must be in the batter's box with eight seconds left on the pitch clock.

Pitchers can step off or attempt a pickoff twice per batter. If it happens more than two times, they'll be called for a balk.

The MLB reported that the pitch clock resulted in a 26% increase in stolen base attempts and a reduction in game length by 25 minutes while it was being tested in the minors.

Shift ban

MLB infield shift
The Philadelphia Phillies set their defense into the "Shift" position during the Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, in Philadelphia.

After years of teams utilizing the infield shift, the MLB has implemented a rule that states two infielders must be positioned on either side of second base when a pitch is released. Additionally, all four infielders must have both feet within the infield during the pitch.

If this doesn't happen, the team batting can choose an automatic ball or stick with the result of the play. If teams want, they can position an outfielder in the infield.

Bigger bases

MLB New Rules Demonstration Baseball
The new, larger base is seen with the older, smaller base at Salt River Field Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Opening day will feature three of the biggest changes in baseball since 1969: Two infielders will be required to be on either side of second base, base size will increase to 18-inch squares from 15 and a pitch clock will be used.

First, second and third base have increased in size from 15 to 18 inches. The MLB said the bigger bases reduced injuries while being tested in the minors. It also, though, shortens the distance from base to base.

The run from home to first is three inches shorter, as is the distance from third to home. The distance from first to second — and second to third — will be 4.5 inches shorter.

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