Reports: Michael Wacha, Padres in agreement on contract MLB’s spring training a test run for new rule changes

right-handed Michael Wacha agreed in principle to a contract with the San Diego Padres, according to two people with knowledge of the deal.

People spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was still in the process of being finalized and was waiting for Vacha to undergo a medical. The contract was thought to run for several years, similar to what the Padres gave to the right-hander. Nick Martinez last year and both people described it as “challenging”.

The 31-year-old Wacha was 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts for the Boston Red Sox last year. The Padres will be his fifth team. He played his first seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and was selected as a rookie MVP in the 2013 NL Championship Series. He also played for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays.

The Padres wanted to add a starter and seemed to be leaning towards starting the season with a six-man rotation. Vacha will join the rotation, which includes Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake SnellMartinez and Seth Lugo.

SCOTTDALE, Arizona. Spring training games this year can be a little ugly, especially in the first few weeks.

For Major League Baseball, this is a feature, not a bug.

Grapefruit and Cactus League games in Florida and Arizona over the next month will be used as petri dishes for rule changes in the sport, including pitching hours, big bases, and restrictions on infield shifts. The idea is that the worst breaks will be ironed out before opening day on March 30th.

Although there are several innovations, one of them stands above the rest.

“The field timer is by far the biggest change that will happen this season,” MLB executive vice president Morgan Sword said Tuesday. “Honestly, this is probably the biggest change that has happened in baseball in our entire lives.”

The field clock has been tested for several years at the minor league level. Pitchers will have 15 seconds to pitch their pitch if there are no runners on base and 20 seconds when runners are on base. There will be 30 seconds between batters and 2 minutes and 15 seconds between innings.

MLB games averaged 3 hours and 4 minutes last season after the introduction of PitchCom’s electronic signaling device, up from a record 3:10 in 2021. Sword said the MLB study shows that fans prefer games that last around 2:30.

The impact of field hours on minor league games in 2022 has been significant. Games that used clocks were on average 25 minutes shorter than those that did not use them.

“The fans want a more defined pace,” Sword said.

Mech said the umpires would keep an eye out for new balls when the runners were on base. Some pitchers, especially pitchers, have bizarre features in their pitching and never stop completely before pitching. This is technically a block, but referees usually ignore these ticks.

A complete stop with no movement becomes more meaningful because the pitching clock operator turns off the clock as soon as the pitcher begins to move towards the plate.

Balks rose to 924 during the 1988 crackdown from 356 the previous year, then dropped to 407 in 1989 and 288 in 1990. The total has been less than 200 per year since 1989 and was 122 last year.

Mech said that many MLB players who spent time in the minors during 2022 came to appreciate the watch, even though there was an adjustment period. He said it takes most players a few weeks to a month to get used to the changes, which is in line with the length of the spring training game schedule.

Mech said the rule changes would be “complete” from the first day of spring training. This may lead to annoyance for some players and awkward moments during the spring training games at the end of February.

Former major league pitcher Joe Martinez, who is MLB’s vice president of field strategy, showed off some of the logistics Tuesday at Talking Stick Field, the spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.

He also detailed some of the technology that will be used to create the new pitching clock system, including buzzers for referees that vibrate when a pitcher runs out of time.

Here’s some other news as MLB camps kick off in Florida and Arizona.

MLB has said it is looking forward to a season without COVID-19 as a major issue. The last three seasons have been at least partially affected by the virus, which caused spring training to be suspended in March 2020.

Fans were not allowed to attend games during the shortened 2020 regular season, and attendance at many parks was severely reduced through most of 2021, when the average attendance was 18,901. Last year, the average of 26,843 was down 5.3% from 28,339 in 2019.

MLB said it was encouraged by several trends towards the end of 2022. In September, attendance was the highest since 2014.

“We feel like we have a lot of momentum,” said Chris Marinak, director of operations and strategy for MLB.

– MLB introduced a balanced schedule for its 162-game regular season schedule, with less focus on divisional rivalries and more on having all teams play against each other every season.

Teams will play their divisional rivals 13 times this season, as opposed to 19 times on the unbalanced schedule that has been used since 2001. Most games in these divisions have moved to an interleague schedule, with teams from the National League facing off against the American League. .

“It brings more teams and more players to more markets,” Marinak said.


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