Inside MLB’s New 2023 Rules
Since commissioner Rob Manfred took over in 2015, Major League Baseball has faced several key challenges -- from navigating a COVID-shortened season and a contentious labor battle to controversies about sticky substances on the mound and the baseballs used across the sport. Now with spring camps set to open this week, MLB is about to embark on perhaps its greatest challenge yet: implementing dramatic on-field rule changes designed to make baseball more entertaining and played at a better pace.
Bigger bases, a pitch clock, and rules clamping down on the infield shift headline the changes that will debut when spring training games begin on Feb. 24. These changes are part of MLB's long-term vision for a faster-paced, action-packed future of the sport.
While these new rules have been accompanied by plenty of criticism, particularly by players who believe they are too quickly implemented and too drastic, the league is confident the game will end up in a better place because of them. Mostly, the commissioner believes that MLB is listening to its fans.
"If you're addressing what the fans want, you're more likely than not to get it right," Manfred said in a recent phone interview with ESPN.
"There's an initial wave, where it's 'Oh my god, (we're) going to ruin the game. But people see it and get used to it, and a lot of it turns positive for a lot of people."
So, what rules are changing?
Let's start with the pitch clock: With the bases empty, pitchers will now have 15 seconds to begin their motion once the catcher returns the ball to them and 20 seconds between pitches with runners on.
Pickoff attempts will be limited: Pitchers will also only be allowed two disengagements from the rubber -- the number of times he can step off to throw to a base or to get a new sign.
Teams are no longer allowed to shift their infielders: The defense must position two infielders on each side of second base and all four infielders have to be on the infield dirt (or infield grass) as the ball is being pitched.
There will be larger bases: The size of each base will be increased to 18-inch squares instead of 15-inch squares.