MLB Announces Rule Changes for 2017

Major League Baseball and the players’ union jointly announced Thursday several rule modifications that will be installed this season – most of them created to accelerate pace of play.

One change is the much-discussed amendment that allows a manager to signal his desire to issue an intentional walk instead of having a pitcher throw four pitches.

While the creation of the no-pitch walk is intended to speed up games, there’s nothing to prevent teams from throwing four balls to issue a walk whether it’s intentional or not.

That means that if a manager needs additional time to, for example, give a reliever in the bullpen more to warm up, he can do so by issuing an intentional walk the traditional way.

There will be no uniform signal to call for a no-pitch intentional walk, and it will be the manager’s responsibility to let his intention known to the umpire.

The signal would likely be a wave signal or holding up four fingers in most cases. The manager is responsible for the signal and the umpire must confirm the manager’s desire to issue an intentional walk.

Three adjustments were also made to the current instant-replay video review system:

– Managers will receive just 30 seconds to challenge a call.

– Replay officials based in New York will have a two-minute “guideline” to make decisions on challenges, “allowing various exceptions.”

– An umpiring crew chief can invoke a replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning, instead of the seventh inning, when a manager has used up all of his challenges for the team.

Also, teams cannot place any markers on the field that would indicate a place for fielders to position themselves. That instance came up last year when the Mets contacted league officials about a Dodgers request to place markings on the field at Citi Field.

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