Scherzer tries to test pitch clock limits, gets balk


Max Scherzer suggested that the new baseball clock would allow pitchers to determine the pace of the game.

According to one of the judges, he raced too fast even for a pitch timer on Friday.

Scherzer tested the limits of baseball’s new pace rules during his second spring practice start by trying some unusual tactics to take Washington Nationals hitters out of the game. At one point, he started throwing the pitch to Victor Robles just as plate umpire Jeremy Riggs reset the clock and Riggs called Scherzer to stop.

“He announces the time, I arrive, I get the green light,” Scherzer said. “I thought it was a clean move. He said no. We have to figure out where the limit is.”

This spring, the Major League Baseball clock forced pitchers and hitters to embrace a whole new pace of play. Players have 30 seconds to restart play between batters. Between pitches, pitchers have 15 seconds to pitch when no one is on the pitch, and 20 seconds if there is a base runner.

Batsmen must be in the box and give the pitcher at least eight seconds notice on the clock, and they only get one time-out per plate appearance.

Some adapt and use the rules faster than others. New York Yankees forward Wendy Peralta was so effective at batting Thursday that he hit three innings in just 20 seconds.

On Friday, Scherzer experimented with several strategies.

With two reps and two strikes against Riley Adams in the third inning, Scherzer froze in set position and allowed the clock to count down to seven before Adams called a timeout.

On the next pitch, Scherzer froze as the 20-second count started. Adams finally entered the box with the clock at 11 seconds and Scherzer immediately struck, hitting a fastball at 96 mph.

“You can tell they expected me to work fast today, and you can use that to your advantage by speeding up and slowing down the game,” Scherzer said.

Not all experiments worked. Not only was Scherzer called for a block, but he also called off a double play at the end of the half when the umpires ruled that he almost let the field timer run out before starting his serve.

“Max and a lot of veteran pitchers and pitchers in general are going to use this time to check some things and make some adjustments,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Everyone here is looking for a competitive advantage – hitters, pitchers, catchers – and now is a good time to put those things to the test.”


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