Atlantic League games will be completed a little faster come August.
At least that's what the league is hoping for.
The league's board of directors on Wednesday adopted six recommendations from the recently-formed Pace of Play Committee, league president Rick White said by phone late Wednesday night.
The league is aiming to implement the newly-adopted pace-of-play rules beginning Aug. 1, White said.
"That's our intention," said White, taking a break from the 2014 Atlantic League All-Star Game in Sugar Land, Texas, on Wednesday night to chat by phone. "We've got a lot of work to do between now and then, mostly in terms of informing on-field personnel, umpires, coaches and players."
The six rules are as follows:
Warm-up pitches for pitchers in-between innings will be reduced from eight to six.
If a catcher reaches base in his at-bat, a runner will be substituted for the catcher so the catcher can go back to the dugout and put his catching gear on to be ready for the next half inning.
Defensive timeouts, or mound visits, will be limited to three a game for each team. This does not include pitching changes. In case a game goes extra-innings, each team will be given one extra mound visit per inning. If a team goes over the limit of mound visits, a ball will be added to the ball-strike count for the batter.
A pitcher can now intentionally walk a batter without throwing a pitch by informing the umpire he would like to intentionally walk the batter and award him first base.
Upon receiving the ball, a pitcher will have 12 seconds to deliver his next pitch to home plate when the bases are unoccupied.
A batter must receive permission from the home-plate umpire to step out of the batter's box.
Umpires must call the "high strike," a pitch that passes over the plate at the player's chest.
These new rules come on the heels of the formation of the league's Pace of Play Committee late last month. The committee includes, among others, Pat Gillick, Tal Smith, Roland Hemond, Joe Klein, Cecil Cooper, Bud Harrelson and Sparky Lyle. It is tasked with reviewing ways to reduce the average game time and enliven the pace of games in order to enhance the overall fan experience.
The committee is a follow-up to a few pace-of-play rules recommended to but not officially adopted by the league last season. Those included the 12-seconds-between-pitches and the "high-strike" rules that are now official in the rule book. Last season the league also recommended for in-between-innings entertainment segments to last a maximum of 90 seconds.
The York Dispatch did a study on these recommendations during the first half of the 2013 Atlantic League season and found league games in the first half of last season were completed in an average of 2 hours, 54 minutes and that the number of walks or strikeouts didn't fluctuate much despite the "high strike" recommendation for umpires.
Expansion: White said the league is eying six potential locations for expansion and met with officials from three of those locations Wednesday. He refused to name any of the potential locations but did say Loudoun (Va.) and Virginia Beach are still conditionally approved but not yet official league members. In the case of Virginia Beach, White said "if certain trigger points were hit before the end of the month there's a strong possibility they could begin play in 2015."
All-Star Game: Sugar Land beat the Atlantic League All-Star Team, 5-3.
The All-Star Team was made up of the top players from seven of the league's eight teams and faced the Skeeters in Sugar Land.
York Revolution infielder Wilson Valdez (shortstop) and Eric Patterson (second base) started for the Atlantic League. At the plate, Valdez went 0-for-2 and Patterson went for 0-for-3. Patterson scored the game's first run by walking in the top of the first inning and later came around to score on an RBI double by Somerset's Corey Smith.
York closer Rommie Lewis came in for the Atlantic League in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and nobody on and retired Sugar Land's Neil Medchill for the third out by getting him to fly out to right field.
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.