Ross on minor league rule changes: ‘Trying stuff is good’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Cubs manager David Ross is waiting to see how the minor league rule changes play out before judging them.
“But I think the fact that they're trying stuff is good,” he said Friday. “It’s not just about some kind of clock system. They're grabbing at different areas, whether it’s the shift or the bases. What I recognize and the league’s recognized and people recognize is that the product can be better. And finding what that is for fans I think is important.”
This season, the minor leagues will be a testing ground for several experimental rules, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. The rules are designed to increase game action and address pace of play issues.
“These rules experiments will provide valuable insight into various ways to create a playing environment that encourages the most entertaining version of the game,” Theo Epstein, former Cubs president of baseball operations and current MLB consultant, said in an MLB release. “What we learn in the Minor Leagues this year will be essential in helping all parties chart the right path forward for baseball.”
Triple-A will play with larger bases, in the hopes of reducing injuries caused by collision. Double-A will test out anti-shift rules. In High-A, pitchers will have to step off the rubber before throwing to a base.
In Low-A, pitchers’ pickoff attempts will be limited. Low-A West will adopt on-field timers to enforce time limits between pitches and of inning breaks and pitching changes. Low-A Southeast will test out an automatic strike zone “to assist home plate umpires with calling balls and strikes.”
That last rule change hit a little closer to home for Ross, a former catcher. Asked if he thought robo-umps are inevitable, Ross said yes.
“I think they're trying to try to maximize the consistency of the strike zone -- makes a lot of sense,” Ross said. “And my fear, from a former catcher, is what the product looked like on TV. I loved manipulating the ball as a catcher, the framing aspect and trying to play that cat-and-mouse game, and having relationships with umpires and talking about strikes and balls. That umpire dynamic was fun for me.”
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