Pirates’ Clint Hurdle weighs in on recent MLB rule changes
In recent days, Major League Baseball and new commissioner Rob Manfred unveiled a series of changes aimed at quickening the pace of games – which ran an all-time high of over three hours last season. While the changes have drawn a wide range of reactions, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Clint Hurdle‘s part, the changes are welcomed.
The 57-year-old Bucs skipper, who is heading into his fifth season at the helm of the club, offered his take on the rule changes to MLB.com this week.
"“I’m sure we’ll make the necessary adjustments as we go along. We’re all for keeping the games moving and interesting.”"
The rule changes were unveiled by the league and the player’s association – and included changes to how the relatively new challenge system works, as well as numerous pace-of-game changes that are largely unprecedented.
Beginning this season, managers will not leave the dugout during instant replay challenges, commercial breaks between innings will now have a time limit and pitching changes will have a condensed time frame, as well. Furthermore, batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box during at-bats (unless an ‘established exception’ takes place).
These exceptions include the following: “swinging at a pitch, foul balls, foul tips, if the hitter is brushed back by a pitch, time granted by the umpire and wild pitches” – (per ESPN.com).
There will not be a pitch clock instituted this season, but it has not been ruled out in coming years, either. Another rule change related to the challenge system that allows managers to keep their ability to challenge after any successful overturned play is one that the Pirates’ Hurdle appreciates, but hardly considers to be anything groundbreaking.
"“I’m sure they’ll keep tightening things up,” added Hurdle, who continues to see the replay process as a work in progress. “When we started talking about this exactly a year ago, all the conversations we had made note of the fact this is something we’ll continue to work on to make it better. But we had to come up with something to initiate the process, and that’s what we did last year.”"
In his four seasons with the Pirates, Hurdle has emerged as one of the best managers in all of Major League Baseball, helping the organization snap what was viewed as a seemingly-endless losing streak. The changes should not impact how he approaches the game in any substantive way, but given his ability to adapt in the dugout, it’s hard to envision him not utilizing them to the best of his ability.
Pittsburgh reported to camp in Bradenton earlier this week, as odds-makers gave the over-under on the club at 83.5 wins in 2015. The team brought back veteran A.J. Burnett on a one-year deal this winter, also signing Korean slugger Jung-ho Kang for added middle infield depth – only raising expectations in the Steel City.
Regardless of these new pace-of-game rule changes, expect the same Pirates in 2015, led by Clint Hurdle, who, once again, will look to lead Pittsburgh back to the postseason – with his eyes set on the team’s first NL Central crown in over two decades.