PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Like a violin virtuoso utilizing a brand new music stand, San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado observed a distinction instantly.
Not solely are the bases larger, however they really feel totally different, too.
“It’s positively totally different, for certain,” stated Machado, a two-time Gold Glove winner. “They give the impression of being higher. I simply acquired to form of maintain enjoying with it and stepping on it and form of like getting the texture for it. However it’s positively totally different for certain.”
The larger bases — going from 15- to 18-inch squares — are a part of a flurry of changes by Main League Baseball designed to place extra motion and athleticism again within the recreation and make it extra interesting to a youthful era of potential followers.
When the brand new guidelines have been adopted by baseball’s 11-person competition committee in September, the 4 gamers on the panel supported the larger bases and voted in opposition to using a pitch clock and limits on defensive shifts.
The brand new bases — “They seem like a pizza field,” Purple Sox supervisor Alex Cora cracked — minimize down the gap between the bases by 4 1/2 inches. The space between third and residential and residential and first was trimmed by 3 inches.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, however the impression might be appreciable.
As an alternative of ready round for a three-run homer, large league groups may strive a extra aggressive method on the basepaths. Coupled with new limits on what MLB calls disengagements — pickoff makes an attempt or steps off the rubber — it’s extra essential than ever that pitchers are fast to the plate and strong-armed catchers keep alert with runners on.
“The run recreation, stopping the run recreation, is one thing that we’ve talked about, we’re going to proceed to speak about, as a result of … the stolen-base try ought to improve a great bit, I feel,” Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts stated.
Main league groups completed with 2,486 steals in 3,297 makes an attempt final yr, up from 2,214 steals and a couple of,926 makes an attempt in 2021, in accordance with Sportradar, however a lot decrease than 3,229 steals and 4,365 makes an attempt a decade in the past in 2012.
In testing within the minors, two Triple-A leagues used the larger bases for half of the 2021 season. One skilled a 2.2% improve in profitable steals, and the opposite posted 0.7% improve.
The 2012 season — when Mike Trout led the majors with 49 stolen bases — was the final time the massive leagues surpassed 3,000 steals and 4,000 makes an attempt.
“I’ve positively been thrown out by lower than (4 1/2) inches … so perhaps that begins factoring into outcomes,” stated Chicago Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner, who swiped a career-best 20 bases in 22 makes an attempt final yr.
In fact, it additionally offers the majors’ prime defensive first basemen a fair higher probability of conserving runners off base altogether.
“I feel it may assist. It’ll give me one other inch or so of attain on a throw that wishes to drag me off the bottom,” stated Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker, who received his first Gold Glove final yr.
Moreover the exercise on the basepaths, Main League Baseball is hoping the change will assist scale back accidents. Whereas testing the larger bases within the minors, there was a 13% decline in what the league calls “damage occasions close to the bases” from 2021 to 2022.
There’s extra room for first basemen to keep away from getting stepped on, or to drag their arm away in time to keep away from a batter hustling up the road. It additionally ought to assist keep away from collisions everywhere in the diamond.
“Once you stroll on the sphere, you don’t actually discover it, and getting nearer to the bag, you positively do discover it,” stated Cubs first baseman Eric Hosmer, a four-time Gold Glove winner. “It looks like somewhat flatter, too, as nicely. Not solely larger and longer, however positively somewhat flatter.
“However yeah, I feel it’s going to stop some accidents, so I feel anytime you’ll be able to even knock that quantity down one or two guys, that’s nicely value it.”
AP Sports activities Author David Brandt and AP Baseball Author Noah Trister contributed to this report.
Observe Jay Cohen at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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