Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association Thursday jointly announced a series of rules modifications that will become effective at the start of the 2017 regular season, which gets underway in April. The changes include the following:
— A no-pitch intentional walk: The defensive team’s manager will signal his decision to intentionally walk a batter, and the umpire will immediately award first base to the batter.
— A 30-second limit for a manager to decide whether to challenge a play and invoke replay review.
— When a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, crew chiefs will invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning instead of the seventh inning.
— A conditional two-minute guideline for replay officials to render a decision on a replay review, allowing various exceptions.
— A prohibition on the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.
— An addition to Rule 5.07 formalizes an umpire interpretation by stipulating that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
— An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch. Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.