Action clock modifications approved in baseball

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday approved modifications to baseball’s 20-second action clock with runners on base for the 2023 season.

Under the rule, with runners on base, a pitcher will be required to start the motion of throwing a pitch or making a pickoff throw to avoid a clock violation.

Pitchers will be allowed one step-off or fake throw to a base per batter to reset the clock.

If a defensive player requests and is granted a timeout by an umpire, it would be treated the same as a step-off by the pitcher to reset the clock. Again, this will be allowed only once per batter.

If the 20-second clock expires without a pitch or pickoff throw being made, a ball will be added to the count.

Previously, pitchers received a warning for the first violation of the 20-second clock, and a ball was added to the count for any subsequent violations. Pitchers could make an unlimited number of step-offs or fake throws to reset the clock.

If the offense violates the 20-second clock, a strike will still be added to the count.

The panel also approved a requirement that the between-innings and action clocks be visible on the field by Jan. 1, 2024, for all Division I games and Jan. 1, 2025, for all Division II and III games. Clocks do not have to be permanently affixed to the stadium. The change established a minimum of one visible clock, although multiple clocks are encouraged. A clock should be visible to the field umpire responsible for monitoring the timing rules.

To effectively and consistently enforce rules aimed at addressing the concern, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee thinks a visible clock is necessary to address pace-of-play issues.

Video review

The panel approved expanding umpires’ use of video replay review. Umpires can initiate video reviews to see whether malicious contact or misconduct has occurred. Umpires will also be able to initiate reviews regarding catcher’s interference.

Fence padding

The panel approved a minimum 3-foot fence or protective netting to be in place on the field side of dugouts. The fence/netting would be required in Division I by Jan. 1, 2024, and in Divisions II and III by Jan. 1, 2025.

Additionally, the Baseball Rules Committee recommends padding be placed on all hard surfaces (backstops, sideline and home run fences) with which a player could collide during play.

Other rule changes

  • Starting with the 2023 season, celebratory props will not be allowed outside the dugout.
  • All coaching appeals of an umpire’s decision or interpretation of the rules for a play on the bases are to be made at the middle point of the team’s respective foul line. A coach cannot enter the dirt circle for decisions or interpretations of the rules for plays at home plate or for lineup changes.
  • Either by conference rule or mutual consent between the two teams, a game could be completed with one umpire.
  • Either by conference rule or mutual consent between the two teams, all extra innings (10th inning of a nine-inning game or eighth inning of a seven-inning doubleheader game) would start with a runner on second base.

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