A's support efforts to improve pace of games

Batters required to stay in box; clocks to monitor break times

A's support efforts to improve pace of games

MESA, Ariz. -- As A's pitchers and catchers trickled into the clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium prior to their first official workout Friday, they were greeted to news of Major League Baseball putting in place a series of initiatives aimed at hastening the pace of games.

Among them: Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), which requires hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to a group of exceptions. Timers will also be used to measure break times between innings and pitching changes, as well as non-game action, during each game.

"All of it is under the same umbrella of trying to speed the games up," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "I know everyone's for that. Sometimes it's tough to break your routines, but whatever MLB thinks is the right thing to do, we'll adhere."

A's catcher Stephen Vogt's routine in the box rarely includes stepping out of it, and he doesn't see any reason for other players to do so.

"Obviously, there are times, you foul a ball off your foot, you want to take a step out of the box and clear your head, but there's no reason you should ever leave the dirt and walk back into the box," said Vogt. "If nothing else, it's just a good rule to have because, for one, it keeps the game moving along and, two, it's just the right thing to do. I think when people are wandering far away from the box, it takes away unnecessary time."

The exceptions that allow a hitter to leave the box include swinging at a pitch, being forced out of the box by a pitch, a timeout or if the team in the field attempts a play on a runner at any base. The rule was in place in the Minors last season.

Also announced Friday as part of the initiative, managers must challenge calls that require video review from the dugout. Managers will also keep their challenge after each call that is overturned. Last year, a challenge was retained only after the first overturned call.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.