Baseball’s pitch clock experiment deserves more time – Pasadena Star News

If you’ve ever attempted to learn a foreign language as a teenager or adult, you’ve probably noticed a strange phenomenon: you learn as much about your first language as you do about your second language. We take for granted certain rules and customs about writing or speaking our native language when it’s the only language we know. When we look at a language from the outside, we can see all of its nuances.

This is exactly what happened to Kyle Barraclough when he first tried playing baseball with a pitch clock. Barraclough, 31, had appeared in 280 major league games and 160 in the minors before May 4 in Salt Lake City – all without a pitch clock. The new clock greeted him like a screeching alarm clock at dawn.

“I’m not a very fast-paced worker,” said Barraclough, who has since been recalled by the Angels. “I gave up a leadoff double to start the (seventh) inning. It was the perfect rush: first time on the court clock, giving multiple signs with a guy on the second, also my first game in a couple of weeks.

His first thought: “It will take some getting used to.”

Barraclough is not alone. For the first time this season, Triple-A hitters and pitchers will be penalized for being late. A pitcher has 19 seconds to deliver a pitch with no runners on base and 24 seconds with a runner on. A batsman has seven seconds to find his way between shots. An automatic ball (for pitchers) or a strike (for hitters) awaits the attackers. Anecdotally, there were plenty of delinquents in the first month of the season.

This is to be expected, especially for veterans who are closer to the end of their baseball careers than to the beginning. The perceived sanctity of baseball as the only non-watch sport may have more ingrained roots in an older player – no different than someone learning a new language at age 31, say. There are many nuances to master.

Take a new tempo-of-play rule that, on the surface, seems harmless: Pitchers are not allowed to leave the surface more than twice per plate appearance. This includes any attempts to throw to first base with a runner. The correct term for this is “disengaging” with the rubber.

For Barraclough, the “disengagement rule” bothered him more than the watch itself. Why is that? It penalizes pitchers more than it does runners, few of whom are adept at stealing bases. Most runners don’t justify more than two throws, so why penalize all pitchers?

The main punishment was psychological in nature, Barraclough said.

“When things start snowing, there’s no such thing as ‘take a step back, take a deep breath, slow down’. There’s no slowing things down,” he said. “Otherwise you will be punished for it.”

The psycho punishment cuts both ways. Hitters have a chance to gain time during each plate appearance before being penalized with a strike. Veteran catcher Chad Wallach, who the Angels promoted last week, said he’s seen more automatic strikes called against batsmen than automatic balls called against pitchers.

Angels infielder Luis Rengifo was playing for Salt Lake a few weeks ago when he fell back on the count 0-and-1 without a single pitch being thrown. It was his first plate appearance of the game and Rengifo said he was a bit too slow to get in and out of the dugout on the clock. he was crazy

That at-bat, Rengifo said, ended up hitting a double.

Then, on May 7, Rengifo fought Tacoma Rainier’s pitcher Asher Wojciechowski with bases loaded and four runs with the bees.

“The pitcher waited about 30 seconds,” Rengifo recalled. “The referee announced a ball. I lead 1-0. (Wojciechowski) threw me a fastball and I hit a homer.

“Some pitchers like (the rule). Some pitchers don’t.”

Other pitchers seem to vacillate between love and hate in the same outing. After being demoted from the Angels, Jose Suarez made his Triple-A debut with Salt Lake on May 6. He was penalized with an automatic ball in the second inning. Barraclough, who was in the bullpen that night, recalled Suarez settling in quickly afterwards.

For the Tacoma batsmen set to face Suarez that night, there was no point in upsetting his timing. The Triple-A pitch clock doesn’t allow that, aside from the one timeout plate appearance every hitter allows.

“[Suarez]started moving like lightning and rolled and threw well,” Barraclough recalled. “The hitter in the box is on time but Suarez comes to the set as the guy is getting ready and calling the time. Now (Suarez) has to get back in and the batsman has to get in – standing – (because) the second he’s ready, (Suarez) is ready to throw.”

In doing so, the watch introduces an element of rhythm that didn’t exist in the sport before, the kind of nuance that makes learning pitch clock baseball feel like a foreign language. This may be more true for participants than spectators. Still, the Triple-A experiment points to a noticeable period of adjustment as pitch-clock rules hit the big leagues.

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