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OC Register: Angels preparing for introduction of the pitch clock


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HOUSTON — The pitch clock, which is almost certainly coming to the major leagues next season, swept through the minor leagues last week.

For Angels right-hander Andrew Wantz, who was pitching in Triple-A when pitch clock enforcement was ramped up, said it was a significant difference.

The average game time throughout the minors was cut by 20 minutes from the prior week.

“I naturally work fast, so it didn’t really affect me too much, but it’s definitely different,” said Wantz, who was recalled to the Angels on Tuesday. “It’s in the back of your head. … Some of the other pitchers that kind of have a tendency to work slow, they were kind of struggling with it. They said they were out of breath or it was just kind of speeding up on them. I think for guys who work slower, it’s tough, but for me, it wasn’t that bad.”

Baseball has experimented with different pitch clocks at different levels throughout the minors and in the Arizona Fall League over the past few years. But enforcement has sometimes been lax and pitchers found various workarounds, like stepping off the rubber to reset the clock.

Last week, though, strict enforcement began throughout the minor leagues. Pitchers were allowed 14 seconds between pitches with the bases empty and 18 seconds with runners on. Hitters also had to be in the box and ready.

There were ball or strike penalties if the pitcher or hitter committed a clock violation. Wantz said he saw one of each, including a hitter given a walk when the pitcher took too much time on a 3-and-2 pitch.

Nothing is certain yet about when and how the pitch clock will be incorporated into the majors, but it seems clear that is the direction the game is headed.

And that’s fine with Angels manager Joe Maddon.

Whenever Maddon is asked about rule changes, he rejects most, with the exception of the pitch clock.

He said he doesn’t notice the increasing the length of games when he’s managing, but he does when he’s watching a game on TV.

“I’m a purist,” Maddon said. “I love this game. I’d rather watch this game than any other game. However, when it drags to the point where it becomes interminable, it’s no more fun. It’s no fun.”

Maddon said there are pitchers who work so slowly that it frustrates even their own team.

“We all feel that,” Maddon said. “A lot of times a player won’t say anything to his pitcher. He doesn’t want to get in his head or take him out of his patterns. But something forced will make you do that. I think everybody’s going to benefit.”

TROUT UPDATE

Mike Trout was out of the lineup for the third straight game because of a bruised left hand, the result of getting hit by a pitch on Sunday.

Maddon said it made sense to give his star center fielder another day because the Angels are off on Thursday, so he effectively gets two more days off.

Maddon said he’s “pretty certain by Friday” that Trout will be back in the lineup. “He’s still sore but doing a lot better. We’re just not going to push it today.”

Although Trout wasn’t in the lineup, he was still in the outfield four hours before the first pitch working on his jumps with outfield coach Damon Mashore. Mashore said Trout has been doing it every day.

“He’s so dedicated to becoming the best outfielder he can become right now,” Maddon said. “That’s what you’re seeing, him challenging himself to really improve his defense.”

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Reid Detmers, 0-0, 8.59) vs. Orioles (TBD), Friday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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1 hour ago, AngelsWin.com said:

“I’m a purist,” Maddon said.

Intentionally walking a batter with the based loaded and the team trailing doesn't sound like a "purist."

What does it even mean to be a "purist" in baseball, anyway?

 

Edited by True Grich
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