Rangers on board with automatic intentional walk

Rangers on board with automatic intentional walk

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Doug Brocail are both on board with new rule allowing for automatic intentional walks.

"If it helps in the art of cutting seconds off the game, I'm fine with that," Banister said Wednesday. "As a former catcher, it's not something you practice every day with the pitchers. It's the art of not throwing a strike.

"It's the art of not doing something you're not used to doing, throwing it wide and out of the strike zone. It is a challenge for a number of guys, one that everybody thinks they should be able to do until you get on the field with a number of people in the stands and there are consequences."

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The new rule allows clubs to intentionally walk a batter without throwing the required four pitches. Most intentional walks are uneventful but there are exceptions.

"I've seen pitchers throw ball down the middle of plate and get hit," Banister said. "I've seen that. I've seen guys air mail it, I've seen guys spike it ... 20-second timeout, stop the clock, second down. It happens. It's not a natural action for a pitcher."

Brocail said he remembers a walk-off win for the Tigers in Detroit when an opposing pitcher threw a wild pitch off an intentional walk with runners at second and third.

"He air-mailed it right up to Ernie Harwell," Brocail said.

Jonathan Lucroy saved a run for the Brewers in a similar situation.

"We were in Colorado and the pitcher threw it 10 feet over my head," Lucroy said. "Somehow this skinny kid was able to leap up and knock it down. Must have been the altitude."

Rangers beat:

• The Rangers will play an intrasquad game on Friday with Tyler Wagner, Connor Sadzeck, Ariel Jurado, Allen Webster, Jose LeClerc and Jose Valdespina scheduled to pitch.

Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch the Cactus League opener on Saturday against the Royals in Surprise. Yu Darvish was scheduled to pitch that day but Brocail moved him back to Sunday.

• Third baseman Adrian Beltre remains limited with a strained left calf muscle with no final decision been made on his status for the World Baseball Classic.

• Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he has become a big fan of the World Baseball Classic even though he was skeptical at first because of the risk of injury. Said Daniels, "Guys get hurt anyway. We just communicate with them, get our arms around the situation and hope for the best."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.