Major League Baseball has some new rules this season — and with spring training up and running, some of the league’s players are beginning to learn what they have in store. That includes the Padres’ six-time All-Star Manny Machado, who now holds a very particular league distinction. In a pre-season game between the Padres and Rays, Machado took too long to get into the batters’ box — and thus had a strike called against him before he’d even started batting.
The called strike was a result of MLB’s new pitch timer rules. Most of the changes have to do with the pitcher’s timing, — but there’s also one that impacts batters, including Machado. As MLB explained on its website: “Batters, meanwhile, must be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark on the clock, or else be charged with an automatic strike.”
For his part, Machado took the call in stride. “I’m about to make a big adjustment,” he said in an interview after the strike. “I might be 0-1 down a lot this year.”
The called strike against Manny Machado may be the first of its kind in league history, but it’s unlikely to be the last.
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One assumes every player who suits up for a Major League Baseball game hopes to earn a place in its record books. For Machado, this might not have been the record he had in mind — though it’s far from his only accomplishment in the league.
The league has also dubbed this season’s spring training as “an adjustment period” — which Machado learned the hard way. Still, it’s better to have all of spring training to prepare for the new rules than having them go into effect at the start of the regular season.