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.”