Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Pitch Clock Chaos - Introducing The Contreras Rule

Arizona's Josh Rojas tried to cause Phillies pitcher Craig Kimbrel to commit a pitch clock violation in Philadelphia. Instead, HP Umpire Junior Valentine warned Rojas under MLB's new Contreras Rule.

In the top of the 10th inning of the D-Backs-Phillies game, Rojas stepped to the plate and quickly fell into a 0-2 hole. After HP Umpire Valentine called "Time" and warned Kimbrel about coming set before the batter was ready (in the box and alert to the pitcher), Rojas tried taking advantage of the situation by deliberately delaying his return to the batter's box after a pitch, going so far as to initially look at Kimbrel while placing one foot in and one foot out (or touching the line, but certainly not in a hitting stance), before stepping into a hitting stance but keeping his head focused on the dirt near home plate, so as to cause Kimbrel to come set prior to Rojas having both feet in the box and being alert to the pitcher—which is a Scherzer Rule violation.

Instead, HP Umpire Valentine called "Time" and warned Rojas under MLB's new Contreras Rule, so-named after a memo baseball sent to teams in the wake of Willson Contreras' inducement of pitch clock violations by Kenley Jansen, effected by straddling the batter's box and delaying his assumption of "in the box and alert."

The memo declares that from now on, a batter shall be warned and then assessed a strike on subsequent violations if they engage with (look at) the pitcher with one or both feet in the batter's box, and then try to appeal to the umpire that the pitcher has violated the Scherzer Rule.

Immediately thereafter, Kimbrel committed another violation, resulting in an automatic ball penalty, for coming set at the 18-second mark of the 20-second pitch clock and Rojas not in the box or alert.

This led to more arguments and even a brief confrontation between Kimbrel and Rojas before Rojas struck out to end the bizarre at-bat.

Earlier in the game, Philadelphia's Bryce Harper was called for a pitch timer violation for requesting "Time" twice during a single plate appearance (both before the first pitch was thrown!). Harper had alleged the pitcher violated the Scherzer rule for coming set and bringing both hands together before Harper was alert, but the pitcher was actually in hybrid and thus considered to be in Windup Position, which is exempt from the Scherzer Rule.

What will the next new pitch clock rule be? | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Both managers come on the field to argue pitch timer rules in the 10th inning


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