Texas Rangers

‘How many minutes is it literally saving? Five minutes, maybe? I’m not a fan of it’

Joey Gallo doing bad things to baseballs at Rangers camp

Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo does things in batting practice that few others can do. Take a look.
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Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo does things in batting practice that few others can do. Take a look.

The pitch clock is coming to spring training, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the Cactus League and Grapefruit League rollout is for players and umpires to get acclimated for possible implementation this season.

The concept, which debuted in the minor leagues in 2015, is to speed up games, which average more than three hours. The commissioner comes armed with data that says the 20-second pitch clock has shaved minutes off games in the minors.

Opening Day for the Texas Rangers is March 28, and players who were asked Tuesday morning were mostly against the pitch clock coming or indifferent to its effects after experiencing it in the minors.

Even manager Chris Woodward said that he’s not a fan.

The players’ main concerns are if the pitch clock will actually speed up games, would it be in effect for all scenarios and would umpires actually enforce it.

“I’m not sure if it really saves any time,” right-hander Shelby Miller said. “How many minutes is it literally saving? Five minutes, maybe? I’m not a fan of it. I usually work fairly quickly, but there are certain scenarios and times in the game when you need to slow down and take a breath to lock back in. If you’re getting rushed by a clock they’re throwing at you, it could throw you off your game.”

Miller said that he experienced the pitch clock while rehabbing last season in the minors and was popped for a violation. The penalty was the umpire adding a ball to the count, changing the rest of the at-bat.

“It’s ridiculous, I’d say,” Miller said. “In the minors they’re actually costing you games. They’re putting you in better hitter counts. It’s almost like the umpires enjoy getting to call that ball. It’s just goofy.”

Left-hander C.D. Pelham, who has spent most of his career in the minors, said that he developed a rhythm and was never effected by the pitch clock. He conceded that it would affect starting pitchers more than relievers like him.

But couldn’t he sense that games in the minors were actually played faster?

“To me it didn’t make much of a difference,” Pelham said. “I don’t think it necessarily made the game faster.”

Of those asked, only Joey Gallo was in favor of the clock, saying he wants MLB to add any measures that might make games faster. It’s better for the players and the fans, he said.

Manfred can unilaterally implement the pitch clock this season without approval of the MLB Players Association because it was proposed more than a year ago. Other rules changes, like the three-batter rule for relievers, were proposed only recently and couldn’t be unilaterally imposed by the commissioner until 2020.

If it does happen, the Rangers will abide by it.

“I don’t love it, but if we’re going to do it, obviously, our pitchers have to follow the rules,” Woodward said. “I don’t want them getting a ball called or getting fined, and we’re going to adjust to that if that’s the rule. Hopefully we’ll all get an understanding of how it’s going to work if it does happen.”

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.