Major League Baseball did not get the sweeping rule changes it wanted for 2017, but there will be a few differences in how the game is played this season.
MLB and the players’ union announced a series of adjustments on Thursday, most of which had been previously reported.
The marquee change is the implementation of the no-pitch intentional walk, which will now allow a team to send a batter to first base without four intentional balls being delivered.
MLB also tweaked its replay challenge system, giving managers a 30-second time limit to decide on whether to seek a review and the replay officials themselves a two-minute "guideline" in which to render a decision.
Other rule changes were aimed at specific practices by teams and players that some thought provided a potentially unfair advantage.
Teams are now prohibited from "the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders."
That measure stemmed from the practice of teams using laser rangefinders before games in an effort to determine the best positioning for their outfielders, then using paint or golf markers as physical reference points for the players during games.
A pitcher can no longer "take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch," a rule aimed directly at San Diego Padres reliever Carter Capps’ unorthodox delivery.
Finally, first and third base coaches must now essentially stay within the lines of the coach’s box prior to each pitch, though they can move out of the box to signal during play as long as they do not interfere.
Because the only way to truly appreciate Carter Capps’ delivery is in slow motion #PadresSTpic.twitter.com/uLZHfWlThr
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) February 15, 2017