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MLB to implement pace-of-play rule changes in 2015, per report

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball is expected to announce a few rule changes on Friday for 2015, aimed at increasing the pace of play and reducing game times in the sport. The changes, which will presumably be implemented beginning opening day 2015, were reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports on Thursday night:

  • Managers must initiate all replay challenges from the dugout. In 2014, the first year of replay challenges, the general practice involved a manager running on to the field to argue with an umpire, all while looking back toward a coach in the dugout who was in communication with the club's video representative to determine whether or not to challenge the call.
  • Batters must keep one foot inside the batters box at all times, unless an established exception occurs.
  • Game play to resume "promptly" after each commercial break. Baseball certainly doesn't want to decrease its advertising allotment, thereby decreasing revenue, so this rule will attempt to make sure the game is ready to begin as close to each commercial break is returning.

"One thing you will see, which will happen right away, is between innings when it says 2:25, between the last out and the next inning starts, that first pitch will come at 2:25," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said earlier in February. "It won't be at 2:25 the hitter is announced, and he strolls in and the pitcher gets on the mound. The pitcher is going to be ready to deliver the ball at 2:25."

MLB created a pace of play committee in September, looking to cut back on game times averaging well north of three hours. The committee included Braves president John Schuerholz, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark, Red Sox partner Michael Gordon, MLB president of baseball operations Joe Torre, and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.

New commissioner Rob Manfred has prioritized this effort to improve pace of play, saying in a September interview: "Attention spans are shorter. I think that it's very important to us at least symbolically to say to fans, we understand that you want this to move as quickly as possible and we're going to continue to modernize the game, without harming its traditions, in a way that makes it more enjoyable and more attune to the society that we live in."