Tony Clark is cautious when it comes to just about anything to do with the constituency he represents.
Clark, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, met with Rangers players Monday morning. One of the big topics of discussion was the league’s ongoing attempt at speeding up the game. Beginning in May, players can be fined or disciplined if they, for example, fail to keep a foot in the batter’s box, or if a pitcher isn’t ready to go when a timer clock has counted to zero after between-inning commercial breaks.
“Although we can appreciate that some have a concern about the overall length of the game we need to be very careful about effecting change in the game that affects the way players play,” said Clark, the first former player to become head of the players’ union. “At the end of the day we’re all baseball fans and love the game and we need to be very sensitive to adjustments to the game on the field and how they may affect how players may perform.”
Clark isn’t just speaking as a former player, but also echoing sentiments from current players such as Rangers pitcher Derek Holland. Holland, the Rangers’ player representative, isn’t a fan of the changes.
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“I don’t believe in speeding up the game. Let the game be played the way it’s supposed to be played,” he said.
Clark doesn’t think minor league trial runs of pace of play rules is analogous to using them in the big leagues.
“The game at the big league level is much different,” he said. “So just assuming you can write a rule and you think you know what’s going to happen with it ... you never really know until the lights come on and that rule is implanted and guys try to adapt to it.”
Clark is asking players to report if the rules changes “adversely affect the way they play” this season.
Holland worries that a pitch clock, which will force pitchers to finish their between-inning warm-up throws in a timely manner or go without, could throw off his rhythm.
Players have always been taught to slow the game down in their head, Clark said.
“Now, all of a sudden, we’re telling everybody to speed up. That’s where mistakes happen, that’s when you start doing things you’re not accustomed to doing because you’re rushing.”
Don’t stop believing
Rangers utility player Adam Rosales learned a long time ago to not put too much stock into how he was playing today. It’s never a guarantee the same results will come tomorrow.
Rosales only needs to look back to last spring when he struggled at the plate and started the year with Triple A Round Rock. He joined the Rangers in July and hit .262 in 56 games.
“It’s tough to explain because this game has a lot of dynamics to it,” he said. “Things change. You feel hot sometimes but you’ve got to remember it’s a long season; you don’t want to peak too soon. But then sometimes you need to peak too soon because you need to impress a team. The mentality comes in and how do you combat that and learn how to get around that.”
That balance comes with time, Rosales said.
“Once you become a pro you start understanding the longevity of a season. The ups and downs you’re going to have,” he said. “You’re going to have downs that hopefully last no more than two weeks but then you’re going to have ups and you have to believe in that. The main thing is you have to believe in yourself in those moments because you can’t expect anybody else to believe in you.”
▪ Holland’s status was changed to “improved,” said general manager Jon Daniels. Holland (sore throwing arm) played catch Monday afternoon and is expected throw a bullpen session later this week before pitching in a Cactus League game.
▪ Left-hander Michael Kirkman (sore throwing shoulder) says he feels great and threw on flat ground Sunday. He expects to move to a half mound later this week.