New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo has become the latest player to identify a potential issue regarding MLB's new pace-of-play rules embraced this year.
As shared by Ryan Gilbert of Audacy, Nimmo discussed during the latest edition of the "Baseball Isn’t Boring" podcast how the pitch clock impacts runners who have landed safely on first base and need to remove certain safety equipment they use during at-bats.
"I took my equipment off, gave it to (the first base coach), grabbed the (sliding) handguard, (the pitcher) was coming set," Nimmo explained. "Got out on my lead, and my handguard is just in my hand, and so then I’m like, 'OK,' just panicking a little bit, like, 'can’t go on this pitch' or anything like that."
According to the new rules, pitchers have 15 seconds when the bases are empty and 20 seconds if at least one base is occupied to deliver a pitch toward home. A batter must be inside the batter's box with eight seconds on the pitch clock but can reset the clock by calling a timeout. Batters have only one timeout per plate appearance.
Earlier this month, veteran Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Rich Hill campaigned for the league to "just put another five seconds on the clock" to benefit everyone involved. It sounds like Nimmo could be a fan of Hill's suggestion.
"I went and I asked the umpires after the inning, I said, 'Hey, can I call time just to put on my handguard and then we go?' They said if you do it’s a strike on the batter," Nimmo said. "So I said, 'So does that count as his one timeout?' They said, 'No, it’s a strike on the batter.'"
Thus, Nimmo believes every runner also should get one timeout at the beginning of trips around the bases to take care of their protective equipment. Nimmo also seemed to hit out at those who may criticize players for wearing so much gear inside the batter's box and on the basepaths.
"But like my guards, I have a reason for everyone. I’ve missed time because of being hit there," Nimmo continued. "So I cannot sacrifice those, so it’s like we got to figure out something else. Even if it’s not wearing the handguard. Even if it’s just OK, so now I’m not going to headfirst slide anywhere."
Mets ace Justin Verlander pointed out last week that even umpires are still learning what is and isn't allowed under the new rules. Opening Day is March 30, so the league and MLB Players Association should probably get together sooner than later to discuss potential tweaks to the guidelines before the games start to matter.
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