San Francisco Chronicle
Scherzer tests limits of pace-of play rules
Max Scherzer has theorized that baseball’s new pitch clock will allow pitchers to dictate the pace of games.
In the eyes of one umpire, he raced too fast even for the pitch timer Friday.
Scherzer tested the boundaries of baseball’s novel pace-of-play rules during his second spring training start, trying several unusual tactics to get Washington Nationals hitters off their game Friday.
At one point, he started throwing a pitch to Victor Robles the moment plate umpire Jeremy Riggs reset the clock, and Riggs called him for a balk.
“He calls time, I come set, I get the green light,” Scherzer said. “I thought that was a clean pitch. He said no. We have to figure out where the limit is.”
Major League Baseball’s pitch clock has left pitchers and hitters learning a whole new pace to the game this spring. Players have 30 seconds to resume play between batters. Between pitches, pitchers have 15 seconds to deliver the ball with nobody on and 20 seconds if there’s a baserunner.
Batters must be in the box and alert to the pitcher with at least eight seconds on the clock, and they only get one timeout per plate appearance.
Scherzer experimented with a few strategies Friday.
With two on and two strikes against the Riley Adams in the third inning, Scherzer froze in the set position and let the pitch clock tick down to seven before Adams called timeout. On the next pitch, Scherzer became set as the 20-second clock started. Adams finally stepped into the box with the clock at 11 seconds, and Scherzer immediately delivered, getting a swinging strike on a 96 mph fastball.
“You can tell they were expecting me to work quick today, and you can make that work to your advantage by speeding up and slowing down the game,” Scherzer said.
Not all the experiments worked. Not only was Scherzer called for a balk, but he also had a double play overturned when umpires ruled he had narrowly let the pitch clock run out before starting his delivery.
Slugger Guerrero leaves game early
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. left Friday’s game with knee discomfort.
Guerrero was seen walking toward the clubhouse with an athletic trainer in the second inning and was replaced defensively by Rainer Nunez to start the third.
He had an RBI single during the first inning in his lone at-bat in the game against Tampa Bay.
Guerrero is on the Dominican Republic roster for this month’s World Baseball Classic.
Cole feels good in spring debut
New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole gave up one hit over three scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers in his first spring training start.
Cole struck out four and allowed just two baserunners. The righthander’s fastball reached 99 mph during his 51pitch outing.
“I like how I feel now.” Cole said. “I liked the amount of strikes. I liked the pace.”
Phillies playing it safe with pitcher
Phillies 19-year-old pitching prospect Andrew Painter is getting tests on his right elbow after reporting some tenderness during his spring training debut Wednesday.
He gave up a run and three hits in two innings with a strikeout.
He’s been the buzziest prospect in baseball this spring as he tries to crack the NL champions’ opening day rotation.