KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The initiatives announced Friday by Major League Baseball to quicken the pace of game were seen as positive steps by the Astros, whose games have grown longer since they moved to the American League prior to the 2013 season.
Among the initiatives: Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), which requires hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to certain exceptions. Managers will also no longer come out of the dugout to initiate a replay challenge.
The changes were announced jointly by Commissioner Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark and John Schuerholz, chairman of MLB's Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committees. The new initiatives will be in effect for Spring Training, the regular season and the postseason, and they will be reviewed after the 2015 World Series.
"As players, we discussed it this offseason and I think realized there is a need to focus on making sure games are proceeding as they should without too many unnecessary delays," said Astros catcher Jason Castro, who's the team representative to the Players Association.
"At the same time, we want to make sure that what we are doing won't affect what our ultimate goal is: playing the highest caliber of baseball that we can. From a players' standpoint, as long as things being implemented don't affect guys in a negative way, we're definitely for trimming the fat in some of the games and making sure they're staying on pace and have a good tempo to them."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch will be briefed by Major League Baseball next week in Kissimmee about the changes.
"It's going to be a work in progress," he said. "There's a lot of habits that need to be broken. I know there's a lot of interest in shaving off some time. We'll see how the players adjust. Obviously, the players and Major League Baseball worked to do it, so we'll implement it."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.