Lester, Cubs prospects weigh in on pitch clocks

Lester, Cubs prospects weigh in on pitch clocks

CHICAGO -- Minor Leaguers at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season will have to deal with pitch clocks, as Major League Baseball tries to address the pace of the game. As far as Cubs pitcher Jon Lester is concerned, there's no need to speed things up.

"It's baseball," Lester said during the weekend Cubs Convention. "I mean, it's a beautiful sport. There's no time limit, there's no shot clock, there's no nothing.

"For me, I've always been a believer in the fans know what they're getting themselves into when they show up. It's a three-hour game, it's a three-hour game. If it's a five-hour game, it's a five-hour game. There's nothing you can do to change that, whether you put a shot clock on the pitcher, hitter, whatever.

"I feel like if you go from a three-hour game to a 2-hour, 50-minute game, does that really make a difference? I just think if you do that, it takes the beauty out of the game."

Major League Baseball tested the pitch clocks during the Arizona Fall League last year, and Cubs prospect C.J. Edwards had no problems. Pitchers had 20 seconds to deliver a pitch or throw to a base. An automatic ball was called if a pitcher held the ball too long.

Sherfy lets clock run down

"It really wasn't a big factor," Edwards said. "I move quick already. I think it will have more to do with the relievers, because sometimes it takes guys longer to start up. As a starter, as long as you're in a rhythm, you're OK. Once you start pouting or start getting down on yourself, the clock will get you."

Edwards, 23, didn't have any issues with the clock in the AFL. He gave up three runs on eight hits and walked eight over 15 innings in his six starts with the Mesa Solar Sox, striking out 13.

"There's such a cat and mouse game as far as messing up hitters' timing, messing up pitchers' timing, different things that people who have never played this game don't understand," Lester said. "I feel like if you do add a clock or add a time limit, it just takes all the beauty away from the game. I think you're going down a path you don't want to go down."

It will be up to the catchers to keep their pitchers on the clock. Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs' first-round pick in last June's First-Year Player Draft, didn't expect to need to change his approach behind the plate either.

"Calling a game, it's probably not going to be that big of a deal," Schwarber said. "Once that pitch crosses the plate, we're already thinking about the next pitch and what we're going to try to suggest to these guys. It's not going to be that big of a deal, I don't think.

"The only way it'll affect someone is if they work really, really slow, and it'll probably be better for the game if they speed up a little bit," Schwarber said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.