By now, I’m sure everyone has heard the news that Bruce Bochy was suffering from chest discomfort and had two stents put in. He was back on the job today, and he says that he’s fine. While he was in the hospital, it was as if a good friend of mine was ailing. He’s come to be that important in a lot of our lives. Kind of like a father figure. So glad he’s doing well, and so glad he has a great medical staff around him constantly to take care of him. Thanks to them, an irregularity in his heart was discovered during a routine physical, and they were able to immediately take action. Who knows what could have happened if he was employed in another occupation, especially since heart disease runs in his family (his father died from a heart attack). So glad you’re back and doing well, Boch!
MLB has announced some new rules designed to speed up the pace of games. Hallelujah! I know there are a lot of people excited about this, including me! Here’s a summary of the new rules which will be implemented starting with this season’s Spring Training:
- Batters must keep one foot in the batter’s box (Exceptions include pitches where the batter swings, pitches that force the batter out of the box, and pickoff attempts). This should save a decent amount of time, and prevent ridiculous antics like these (check this out). That’s almost a minute right there to see one pitch!
- The between innings breaks will last no longer than 2:25, or 2:45 for nationally televised games. Each stadium will feature countdown clocks, one near the outfield scoreboard and another behind home plate. That will be different and take some getting used to.
- Pitchers must finish warm-up pitches with at least 30 seconds remaining. I hope this doesn’t make my boys nervous. They could get hurt out there if they’re rushing things.
- Batters must enter the box with at least 5 seconds remaining. The first person who came to mind on this one was Pablo. He’s going to have to go out there ASAP once an inning is over if he’s up first and start his pre-batting routine!
- Pitchers must throw the first pitch before time expires. I’m getting nervous for them just typing this!
- Players will be warned and then fined for violations, up to $500 per infraction. These penalties won’t be in effect during Spring Training or the month of April. It seems to me that this isn’t much of a deterrent when these guys are making millions of dollars.
- Managers can challenge plays from the top of the dugout. They are no longer required to approach the umpire. They will still allow time for staff to review the play in question. They are supposed to use some sort of hand signal to get the umpire’s attention. I wonder if they can be creative with their hand signals. That could be interesting!
- Managers retain their challenge as long as they continue to successfully challenge plays. Previously, they got one challenge and if they were successful, one more. Now they have an indefinite amount. This might actually add time to a game. Hope this encourages umpires to be on the ball so managers don’t have to use said challenges. I’m really glad they’re keeping the challenges this season, and they’ve tweaked them a bit to make them better. Bochy really used them to his advantage last season, getting 22 overturned calls on 35 challenges.
- Managers get one challenge for regular season games. They get two for the All-Star game, playoff games, and tie-breaker games.
- The manager, not the crew chief, must use a challenge for home plate collision calls.
I’m glad guys will get used to these rules during Spring Training because some are going to have to make drastic changes in their batting and pitching routines to comply. We’ll see if they do indeed shorten the length of games.
We’re starting to get some insight into how players are doing after the off-season. Matt Cain and Tim Hudson appear to be right on schedule with their comebacks from surgery. Tim Lincecum spent the offseason working on his mechanics with his dad, and we’ll see if that keeps him his position in the starting five (plus his long locks and cookie-crumb moustache are back!). On the unfortunate side, Sergio Romo is behind schedule due to shoulder soreness. The staff isn’t taking any chances with him, but he expects to be throwing off a mound by sometime this week. The rest of the team is scheduled to report on Monday, and I’m hoping we’ll get a look at how Angel Pagan is doing then.
Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans have received a lot of flack for not signing any huge names this offseason. However, I found out recently that they tried pretty darn hard for James Shields, but possibly their timing was off. Shields declined a 4 year, $80 million offer from the Giants a few weeks before he signed for $5 million less with the Padres. Rumor is that the Giants offer came too early and he wanted to see what other offers he would get. But the Giants needed to act, so when they signed Jake Peavy, they removed their offer. So there. At least they tried, and valiantly. They deserve some credit for that.
Only 9 more days until the first Spring Training game vs. the A’s. Can you believe baseball is almost back? I feel like an old friend is returning from a long vacation! Several of the games will be broadcast on KNBR, so if I’m not working, I hope to be able to listen to my boys battle it out again. And I’m hoping at least a couple of the games will be on Comcast this season. I need a fix! Will keep my ears open for how the boys do during Spring Training. Until next time, GO GIANTS!!