The batter’s box rule has some clarity.

Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo

The batter’s box rule has some clarity.

Representatives of Major League Baseball met with Red Sox coaches this morning to review rules changes for the 2015 season, and one of them dealt with the much-discussed pace of play adjustment requiring batters to keep one foot in the box at all times.

According to Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, that rule will be interpreted more liberally than first reported.

“It’s not going to be a drastic change,” Lovullo said. “What they’re trying to avoid is the long-term delays where guys are into their routine and doing things outside their preparation. We know hitters are trying to slow the game down, but if it crosses the line, the umpires are going to call it to the attention of the batter.”

So where is the line? There’s more leeway than you might think.

“If there’s consistent abuse, they’re going to say hey, we’ve got to address this,” Lovullo said. “If it’s a pitch that’s taken, called strike or ball, that’s when they want to keep you around the batter’s box. But if you take a swing, or there’s some activity, or a pick(off) of some sort, and you step out of the box and get into your routine, that’s OK.

“I think they want to avoid the guys who get a called a strike, raise their hand, step out of the box, walk around a little bit. That was my interpretation, that they’re trying to get people to stay engaged in that area, but not take away from the routine.

“We have to keep in mind, these players are taught to slow the game down. That ball is moving by them very quickly. I don’t think they want to take that away.”

When the Red Sox open their Grapefruit League schedule next week, they’ll break in the new clock between innings that counts down from 2:25 during local broadcasts and 2:45 during national ones.

“That clock starts when that out in the previous half inning is recorded,” manager John Farrell said. “And when a reliever comes out of the bullpen, as soon as he touches the warning track, that’s when the 2:25 clock starts. Basically it’s standardizing the amount of time allowed.”

The most scrutinized rule is going to be the batter’s box one, though, and Farrell said it’s only there to curb the most egregious offenses.

“Regardless of if a guy is in or out of the box, there’s a natural flow to his at-bat,” Farrell said. “In this case, if his back foot remains in the box and he steps out to adjust the batting glove or to regroup from the previous pitch, I think that’s all within reason. What they want to avoid is the guys walking around behind the catcher out of the batter’s box after a pitch is taken.”
Blog Author: 
John Tomase

David Ortiz was very outspoken earlier in the week when he became aware of the new MLB rules regarding hitters in

David Ortiz was very outspoken earlier in the week when he became aware of the new MLB rules regarding hitters in the effort to speed up the overall pace-of-play.

Commissioner Rob Manfred responded to Ortiz’s comments, and the new rules in general on Friday when speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.

Ortiz said during his press conference that he didn’t feel the players were given much input in the changes. Manfred said the MLB Players Association as a whole worked together with the league on it, and he added he doesn’t “foresee the kind of problems” that Ortiz does.

“I think that, across the unit, across the bargaining unit, we will get really good cooperation on pace of game,” Manfred said. “We made the agreement with their certified bargaining representative, and I don’t foresee the kind of problems that Mr. Ortiz does.”

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter on Thursday) reported the first violation of the new rules would result in a warning followed by the next four being different increments of fines. Rosenthal added there was a possibility of even suspending players if they continue to show “willful disregard” of the rules.

Manfred doesn’t expect to see this action used, at least this season.

“I think that we’re going to work into the pace-of-game rules and you’re not going to see that type of disciplinary action at the outset,” said Manfred.

The Commissioner also said he contacted the union after hearing Ortiz’s comments earlier in the week.

“I’ve had a conversation with his bargaining representative about it,” Manfred said. “I’m sure they’ll reach out to him. I expect at the end of the day we’ll get cooperation there as well.”

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli spent two years in Texas with Josh Hamilton when the outfielder was at the height of his powers.

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli spent two years in Texas with Josh Hamilton when the outfielder was at the height of his powers. He knows what a tremendous talent Hamilton is on the field, which made the news about Hamilton’s looming suspension ‘€“ reportedly for a drug relapse involving cocaine and alcohol ‘€“ all the more sad.

“It’s unfortunate, man. It’s just tough,” Napoli said. “A lot of people deal with things in different ways. Obviously there’s something wrong where he keeps relapsing, but it’s sad. I feel for him and his family. I just wish him the best and hope that he gets better.”

Hamilton had been one of the feel-good stories of baseball, a former No. 1 overall pick who drank and drugged his way of the game before a renaissance in Texas from 2008-12. Since signing with the Angels before the 2013 season, however, Hamilton’s star has burned less bright, and his latest transgression is sure to earn him a lengthy suspension.

Napoli doesn’t remember Hamilton struggling to stay on the straight and narrow in Texas.

“It just seemed like he was living his normal life,” he said. “It was never talked about. We were just regular people. We weren’t talking about what he used to do or whatever. When I was there, he had (accountability partner) Johnny Narron, who took care of him and stuff on the road. There was never any sense that he was going to relapse and go down that path.”

Napoli recalls the Rangers altering their celebrations en route to the World Series in 2011 to accommodate Hamilton’s lifestyle.

“We celebrated with ginger ale, and then he’d leave and we’d all celebrate (with champagne),” Napoli said.

In the end, Napoli hopes his former teammate can find himself again and overcome his addictions.

“Some people just have that personality, where they just feel like they need it,” he said. “It’s hard. I feel for him. I hope he gets on the right path to get back to being a star baseball player, because when he’s right and healthy and on the right path, he’s another league above this as a talent. It’s sad.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

David Ortiz (left) beat Hanley Ramirez in the finals of the 2010 Home Run Derby, and they renewed that rivalry in BP on Friday. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)FORT MYERS, Fla.



FORT MYERS, Fla. — When three of his projected starting pitchers wound up on the first pitching rotation charts of spring training inside the JetBlue clubhouse Friday morning, John Farrell had some explaining to do. Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello were listed to pitch against Northeastern in the spring debut Tuesday afternoon, with Wade Miley set to take the hill against Boston College hours later in the nightcap.

Was it a grand conspiracy to hide who he feels is the club’s No. 1 starter from the group of Porcello, Buchholz and Miley?

“Camouflage, it’s a big thing,” Farrell joked.

Farrell then offered the more serious explanation in advance of spring games.

“We also have a doubleheader,” Farrell said. “It’s a matter of getting a number of guys to the mound as early as we can.”

Joe Kelly will start the Grapefruit League opener on Thursday against the Twins and Justin Masterson, who throws live BP on Monday, would be expected to start against the Marlins on Friday.

“We’ve got an overall plan with getting all five guys, really 10 or 11 guys stretched out as starters, to a point in camp where innings are going to be a little less available outside the initial five. We’ll get into that in due time,” Farrell said.

Farrell was asked what will matter most this spring when determining the order of his starters.

“Merit is one. You factor in what’s taken place either the year or years before,” Farrell said. “That’s one factor. You’re also looking at, when you start to slot guys in, if there are pitchers that have anticipated higher innings projections you try to stagger them so you’re not potentially over-taxing a bullpen on consecutive days. And then you’re trying to break things up. If you’re in a three-game series, are giving different looks, based on the style of that starter.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia