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MLB announces pace of play changes for the 2015 season

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Somewhere, Mark Buehrle is smiling. No more leaving the batter's box for each pitch for batters, managers don't have to walk out to challenge, and non-game action between innings will be compressed.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This morning, MLB announced several pace of play changes for the 2015.  While the pitch clock from the minor leagues in 2014 didn't make it, rules involving batters, replays, and what's happening during commercial breaks will change.

Batters now will be required to keep at least one foot in the batter's box with certain exceptions.  The primary exception though is that the batter swings at a pitch, so the rule isn't as draconian as it sounds.  Still, batters can't leave the dirt so a whole routine involving tightening the batting gloves and taking a swing or two on the grass is a definite no-no.  Violating the rule results in a called strike without the pitcher having to throw the ball.

For replays, managers don't have to leave the dugout to challenge.  Managers just need to go to the top step to indicate that they may challenge and give a hand signal to the umpires to actually start the challenge.  To add to the difficulty with replay, it won't be available at all during spring training.

Between innings and pitching changes, there is now a timeline that needs to be followed.  Players get 2:25 between innings for local games and 2:45 for nationally televised games.  Pitchers can take as many warmup pitches as they want, assuming they get them in with 30 seconds left on the clock.  If the pitcher or catcher is on base when the inning ends, they do get an exception and get their eight pitches.  Batters are "encouraged" to be in the batter's box 20 seconds before the end of the break.  Batters who aren't in with five seconds left and pitchers who don't start their motion before time runs out will be subject to fines.  No fines will be issued during spring training or April 2015.

As for the Sox, Jim mentioned the biggest effect it will probably have on the White Sox players.