Hurdle: No way to know benefits of new strike zone

Hurdle: No way to know benefits of new strike zone

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he didn't want to give away any trade secrets.

But it's pretty clear how the league raising the bottom of the strike zone to the top of a hitter's knees could affect the Bucs, whose pitching staff regularly pitches low in the zone.

According to MLB.com's Paul Hagen, at the Owners Meetings this week, there was support of the Competition Committee to raise the lower part of the strike zone from the current definition of "the hollow beneath the kneecap." The development, first reported by ESPN.com, also suggested changes could be made regarding intentional walks, but an MLB.com source indicated that is unlikely.

"I am always going to be more concerned about what it does for us from a defensive perspective and our pitchers than it does from the offensive aspect," Hurdle said. "Because good pitching shuts down good hitting."

The rule changes still must be approved by the playing rules committee. Though the idea behind the changes may be to speed up games or produce more balls in play, Hurdle said he couldn't prove or disprove that theory until the rule took effect.

"Truth be told, I don't think you'd know if it'd be faster or quicker until you put it in play and you saw it," Hurdle said. "Would that help the pitchers? OK, you don't have all this other area to work with, you've got a postage stamp. Now you've got to get in there. Would it help their aim? Would they be more efficient? Would it help the hitters? I don't know."

Also, citing the continuity in strike zone size over the last two years, Hurdle said it seems umpires have finally got the composition down. So changing the process now would take more time for umpires to master the judging of a new strike zone.

"It's the first time in a long time it's been similar in back-to-back years. So for me, why would we change?"

Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.