BALTIMORE — The news that Major League Baseball would institute a pitch timer, restrictions on defensive shifts, and larger bases broke on Friday just as many of the Red Sox were arriving at Camden Yards.
Reactions were mixed. For every player who thought it was a good idea, another was opposed.
“I don’t like it,” second baseman Trevor Story said. “That’s my opinion. I know the game can last long sometimes. But our game is special in that it doesn’t have a clock. I don’t know why everybody wants it over so quick.”
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts said he liked the idea of the game being played at a better pace. He hopes the changes will lead to more action on the field.
“As a catcher, I get that people want to see the pitchers work quicker,” Kevin Plawecki said. “But the umpires will hopefully have some leeway depending on the situation.
“A pitch clock is fine but if the bases are loaded and it’s a sellout crowd and it’s the ninth inning, you want to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
As several teammates took early batting practice, Rich Hill poked fun at the idea of larger bases by replacing third base with a chair cushion.
The bases, which will be 18 inches square instead of 15, are designed to cut down on injuries with a side effect of encouraging more base stealing.
Teams will now begin the process of deciding how the new rules will affect them.
“From my end I want to gather more information,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “How are we going to implement [the new rules], how are we going to execute? That’s the most important thing.”
Cora understands why MLB is taking these steps
“In the end what we want to do is make this a better product, right?” he said. “Certain people feel like this is part of that. Others, they’re against. But with time we will be able to adjust and we’ll be able to execute and hopefully the product is better.”
The pitch timer requires the pitcher to begin his motion before it expires. Pitchers will get 15 seconds with the bases empty, 20 with at least one runner on.
The hitter must be in the box and “alert to the pitcher” with at least eight seconds left.
Rafael Devers doesn’t like the change.
“It’s hard to hit,” he said. “You need time to think and get set.”
Cora has faith in MLB consultant Theo Epstein and senior vice president of on-field operations Raul Ibañez, who worked on the changes along with executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword.
“These conversations started a while ago with Theo talking to managers,” Cora said. “If this gets more athleticism into the game and makes it less one-dimensional, that would be great.”
Working on it
Nate Eovaldi, who has been on the injured list with shoulder inflammation since Aug. 19, hasn’t given up on the season.
The righthander is scheduled to throw in the bullpen at Camden Yards on Sunday with an eye on getting into at least one major league game before the season ends.
“We’re still working on it,” Cora said.
Eovaldi will become a free agent after the season. Getting into a game would be the best way to show teams, including the Red Sox, that he is healthy after making only 18 starts this season.
Righthander Kutter Crawford, on the IL since Sept. 1 with a shoulder impingement, is not progressing as quickly as hoped. He’s playing catch but has not thrown in the bullpen.
The Sox initially thought Crawford would start one of the games in the series against Kansas City that starts Friday.
It’s increasingly unlikely Eric Hosmer will play again this season. The first baseman has stopped baseball activities because of a back injury.
“We’re running out of days,” Cora said.
Remembering the Queen
There was a moment of silence before the game in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. She had a connection to the Orioles, having attended two innings of an Athletics-Orioles game at Memorial Stadium in 1991 … According to Fangraphs.com, the Sox had an 0.1 percent chance of making the playoffs through Thursday with the Orioles at 2.9. Baseball-Reference.com gave the Sox a less than 0.1 percent chance … Agent Scott Boras watched batting practice from the field. He was at the park to visit with several clients, Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez among them.