Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

MLB, Rays discuss changes to quicken games

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays don't expect small changes to baseball's pace of game rules to have a big impact.

MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre met Wednesday with manager Kevin Cash to go over several planned changes, including a reduction of 20 seconds from the break between innings and a stadium clock-timed 30-second limit on visits to the mound.

"Really, no major changes whatsoever," manager Kevin Cash said. "It was a very informative, good discussion, just kind of giving us a heads-up on a couple tweaks to the thoughts on pace of game, the rule book and stuff like that."

Rays pitchers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi said they don't see the reduction in between-innings time — from 2:25 to 2:05 for most games, 2:45 to 2:25 for national TV games — as causing them any problems, but it could be for others.

"I know a lot of guys take their time, they're not rushing, so it will be interesting to see how everybody kind of adapts to it," Odorizzi said. "I can understand the thought behind it, but 20 seconds off the already kind of quick clock is a lot of time for a lot of guys. I think it's an aggressive cut down."

The pitchers felt similarly about the mound visits having a 30-second limit, which Torre said will start when the coach or manager leaves the dugout.

There was some mock concern in the clubhouse about the change cutting down on pitching coach Jim Hickey's TV time during his visits. "I think he'll be able to use his dialogue really quickly and he can still enjoy the other 15 seconds," Odorizzi said.

There also will be a change to the rule regarding slides into second base, but Cash said it will be another 10 days or so before the wording is finalized.

Torre said he expects the players to go along with the changes since they are being made in coordination with the union.

RAIN MEN: Rain and severe weather (which led to a later tornado warning) forced the Rays to do all their work in the covered batting cages/pitching mounds facility, which Cash and players said still made for a productive, albeit shorter, day.

"It's a little different throwing in the cage and getting used to the depth perception and all that," RHP Brad Boxberger said. "But outside of that, it's a mound, and that's all you really need."

Cash noted the impressive work being done by LHP Matt Moore and RHP Matt Andriese.

The pitchers and catchers will have an abbreviated workout today then move right into live batting practice when the full squad convenes for the first time Friday.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Steven Souza Jr. is recovering from the intercostal muscle strain that sidelined him Sunday but is not expected to be ready to participate in Friday's first full-squad workout. Souza said he shouldn't be out much longer, but once he feels good "we're going to wait a day or two." … C Mayo Acosta and 1B/OF/DH Logan Morrison were back after being sent home sick Tuesday.

MISCELLANY: The Rays signed a 16-year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic, RHP Daury Cordero, who already has been clocked at 92 mph and projects as a starter. … INF Logan Forsythe and Hickey are guests on tonight's "Countdown to Opening Day" radio show 7-8 on 620-AM. … Non-roster INF Juniel Querecuto was the only one of the 64 players to not report early. … Gold Glove winning CF Kevin Kiermaier is featured on the cover of the 2016 media guide.

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