According to a blog this afternoon by ESPN’s Jayson Stark, there could be a few rules changes for Major League Baseball in 2013 thanks to some voting at the recent owner’s meeting.
- First, pitching coaches and managers will be allowed to bring interpreters to the mound to speak with foreign-born pitchers. According to Stark, the change has been approved by the owners but needs to be agreed upon by the player’s union. I can’t see the player’s union saying no to this. The Yankees and Mets both have predominately American-born pitching staff, so I’m not sure how much this would have an impact in New York…but it couldn’t hurt to make sure nothing is lost in translation in a big spot. You’d have to wonder if umpires would give those meetings a little more time to allow for back-and-forth or if they’re coming out to chase people off the mound after 15 seconds anyway.
- Second, clubs will be allowed to have a seventh coach in uniform. Many teams have added assistant hitting coaches during the offseason. This would allow those assistants to be available during games. Perhaps we’ll see hitters making more in-game adjustments if there is another coach around to track tendencies, break down video, etc.
- Third, the old fake-to-third, pickoff-to-first move would be considered a balk if the player’s union agrees. According to Stark, the MLB playing rules committee can impose that rule by itself, but it’s hoping to get agreement from the owners (check) and the players (still waiting) before enforcing it. I suppose there is some sort of advantage to pitchers in that situation – runners on the corners and a speedy runner on first, pitchers can keep the double play intact by holding that runner on at first – but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get picked off at first after a fake to third. I’m sure it’s happened at some point, though. As far as I understand, pitchers can still step off the rubber and look a runner back to first without that being a balk in that situation.
Of course, there is also the new random in-season hGH testing rule, which will be a big deal as MLB looks to get past the steroid era.
And don’t forget that bullpen phones will be replaced by cellphones as per a commercial partnership with T-Mobile. I’m sure there will be at least one funny cellphone controversy at some point during the 2013 season.
(Update, 6:19 p.m.): This news breaking just after I click “send:” the Tampa Bay Rays have suspended minor league catcher David Wendt 50 games for testing positive for Methylhexaneamine, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. Wendt becomes the seventh players in the Rays organization to test positive for drugs since the start of the 2012 season. Methylhexaneamine is an over-the-counter stimulant originally used for nasal decongestion, at least according to Wikipedia. It’s found in dietary supplements and protein powder shakes but is not permitted by baseball’s drug policy.
Wendt was 2-for-5 with a triple in the one game he played for the Hudson Valley Renegades in 2010. He played for High-A Port Charlotte (Fla.) and Double-A Montgomery in 2012, hitting .223 with eight RBI in 42 games. He had also pitched two innings for Montgomery in 2011.