Slowly, baseball rolls out pitch clock in spring training

Baseball is on the clock.

The traditionally timeless sport implemented a pitch clock in spring training for the first time Saturday in an attempt to hurry up both pitchers and hitters and keep the modern fan from tuning out the increasingly lengthy games.

Sixteen games across Florida and Arizona were scheduled to be played under the new rules, which were being phased in without threat of penalty for the first few days or more. There were no notable incidents in the afternoon, when three of the six games approached or surpassed 3 hours.

“I hope it gets the tempo up,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said after the Cardinals beat the Marlins 11-1 in 3 hours, 15 minutes. “It sounds like at the minor-league level they get used to it, and that’s the way you go.”

Since taking over as Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred has made speeding up games one of his primary goals. Last year, the average length of a nine-inning game fell to 3 hours — five minutes shorter than the previous season, but still 36 minutes longer than a typical game in 1976.

After pushing for an agreement with the players last season, MLB decided on its own to experiment with pitch clocks during spring training this year. MLB has the right to implement the pitch clock for the regular season but would prefer to reach an agreement with the union.

Of the six early games Saturday, three finished at 2:30 and under and three were at 2:56 or more. The Red Sox and Yankees — whose rivalry has repeatedly resulted in four-hour games in recent years — finished their Grapefruit League game in 3:06 on Saturday.

Kershaw back next week: The Dodgers say left-hander Clayton Kershaw is expected to resume his regular throwing program next week.

Manager Dave Roberts gave Kershaw a chance to “reset” after two bullpen sessions. The three-time Cy Young Award winner said he “just didn’t feel right” after a live batting practice session Monday and a bullpen session Wednesday.

Briefly: Felix Hernandez, entering his 15th season with the Mariners, gave up four runs and left after 1 ⅓ innings in a 6-4 loss to the Padres, but said he was satisfied with his outing. … The Nationals signed former A’s outfielder Collin Cowgill and former Sonoma State outfielder O’Koyea Dickson to minor-league contracts. … The Reds signed shortstop Jose Iglesias to a minor-league contract.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Slowly-baseball-rolls-out-pitch-clock-in-spring-13640028.php.

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