Orioles manager Brandon Hyde had a split reaction Friday to the rule changes jointly announced by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association a day earlier. The more immediate measures to address pace-of-play issues were welcome for the first-year skipper, but his thoughts on the 2020 changes that will address strategy were more measured.
For the coming season, MLB made uniform a two-minute commercial break between half-innings, down from 2:25 on national broadcasts and 2:05 on local broadcasts. They reduced the number of mound visits from six to five, made a uniform July 31 trade deadline that eliminated the Aug. 31 non-waiver deadline, and made changes to All-Star Game voting with a $1 million prize for the Home Run Derby.
In 2020, MLB instituted a three-batter minimum for relief appearances, added a 26th player to the active roster while eliminating expanded rosters in September, and will cap the number of pitchers on the roster at a to-be-determined amount.
Hyde is a supporter of what will happen this year, but can't say how the game will change with the more substantial adjustments without seeing it.
“I am into pace of play,” Hyde said. “Helping the pace of play in our game can only be beneficial. Some of the stuff, when it comes to the strategy part of it, I have to wait and see… .
“So, if we want to cut down time between innings, I think that's great. I'm OK with the mound-visits thing if it's going to shave some minutes out, I'm great with it. But when it comes to... strategic stuff, then I'm in kind of the wait-and-see category."
The agreement between the league and the union comes in a climate of general discontent on both sides. Commissioner Rob Manfred has attacked pace-of-play measures and has the ability to implement them unilaterally, but brought players into the conversation on these.
In return, the league and players will take the unique step of addressing some financial issues mid-stream on a collective bargaining agreement, such as the players' fury at teams' reluctance to give the kind of contracts that six-year free agents and veteran players that were the norm when the CBA was agreed to.
Around the horn
Right-handers Mychal Givens and Nate Karns stayed back in Sarasota for a simulated game Friday morning instead of traveling to Fort Myers to face the Twins, with Hyde saying the team was more interested in getting innings in the game for starter David Hess, Josh Rogers, Richard Bleier, and Josh Lucas. … Alex Cobb, the Orioles’ Opening Day starter, makes his return to the mound for a game Saturday. He last pitched in the Grapefruit League on March 5, and had a simulated game Sunday to accommodate the birth of his daughter, Chloe, on March 8.