San Francisco Chronicle
League to announce rule tweaks
MIAMI — Major League Baseball’s new pitch clock is going to undergo some timing adjustments before it is turned on for games that count.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called the changes “significant” but also described them as “clarifications” based on input from players. The alterations are likely to be announced Wednesday, eight days before opening day.
“They’re important in my mind because they’re responsive to things players said to us,” he said before Tuesday night’s World Baseball Classic championship game between the United States and Japan.
Baseball’s 11-man competition committee, established in the labor agreement last March, adopted the pitch clock and shift limits last September over the opposition of the four players on the panel. MLB set the pitch clock at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners.
MLB also is limiting pickoff attempts and requiring two infielders to be on either side of second and all infielders to be within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber.
Players have talked about the need to accommodate certain plays that delay a pitcher from getting on the mound, such as after backing up first base.
“We have another set of issues that we want to see some regular-season games before we make a decision on them,” Manfred said. “I’ve met with six teams’ players already. Our feet are not in stone on this, on the one hand, and we are prepared to make adjustments based on input. On the other hand, we want to give it a chance to see exactly how it plays out after a period of adjustment in some regular-season games before we make any really significant alteration.”
Further adjustments may be made during the season, Manfred said.
Phillies won’t place Harper on 60-day IL
The Philadelphia Phillies are leaving open the possibility for Bryce Harper to return to their lineup much sooner than the All-Star break, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a quicker-than-expected return for the slugger from reconstructive right elbow surgery.
While Harper will begin the season on the injured list, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that the two-time National League MVP will not, for now, be placed on the longer 60day IL that would mean he couldn’t be activated before the end of May.
After Harper had Tommy John surgery in November, the National League champions said they expected him back in the lineup as their designated hitter by the All-Star break in July. The slugger indicated the same when he got to camp last month, adding that they were going to be smart about his recovery and rehab.
Dombrowski said the timetable hasn’t really changed, and that the Phillies could still use the 60-day IL if they need to open a spot on the 40-man roster and know then Harper wouldn’t be back before the end of May.
D-Backs lose Kelly to fractured forearm
The Arizona Diamondbacks will go into the season without catcher Carson Kelly, who has a broken bone in his right forearm after getting hit by a pitch in a Cactus League game.
Kelly will likely miss several months, though manager Torey Lovullo wasn’t ready to discuss a potential timeline for the catcher’s return when announcing the diagnosis Tuesday.
“I always hope for a miracle and that there’s going to be an unbelievable recovery,” Lovullo said a day after Kelly got struck by a pitch from Chicago White Sox right-hander Gregory Santos.
Gabriel Moreno, the 23-yearold catcher the Diamondbacks acquired in a trade with Toronto during the offseason, could now become their starter. He made his big league debut last season hitting .319 in 25 games for the Blue Jays.