2023 World Baseball Classic Won't Use MLB Pitch Clock, Shift Limit During Tournament

Erin WalshFebruary 8, 2023

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 01: Paul Goldschmidt #46 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third inning at Busch Stadium on October 1, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The 2023 World Baseball Classic will not implement Major League Baseball's pitch clock, shift limit or larger bases during the upcoming competition, per Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.

The 20-team World Baseball Classic, which features numerous MLB stars, runs from March 8-21. Players will get to experience MLB's new rules during Spring Training, which begins later this month.

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who is representing the United States at the World Baseball Classic, discussed the decision to not implement the new rule changes:

"There's going to be an adjustment and learning curve to those, so for the actual quality of baseball in the WBC, it's probably better that they didn't spring that on us in important games. If something happened in an elimination game that we weren't prepared for, that could have a negative effect. We're going to need a learning curve with those and we won't get it for a few weeks, but we'll work on it in spring training and other times."

The Joint Competition Committee voted Friday to implement the three rule changes after testing them out at the minor league level. The rule changes are being implemented to improve the pace of play, action and safety in MLB.

The pitch clock, in particular, should improve the speed of the game. A 30-second timer will be included between batters and a 15-second timer will be used between pitches when the bases are empty. When there are runners on base, there will be a 20-second timer between pitches.

With the pitch clock implemented in the minor leagues, the average game time was reduced by 26 minutes.

While a pitch clock is being implemented, MLB is doing away with the defensive shift in an effort to get more balls in play. The fielding team must have four players, at minimum, on the infield. Two infielders must be on either side of second base.

As for the bases, they are being increased in size from 15 inches square to 18 inches square. Home plate will remain the same size, however. With this rule change, MLB aims to give players more room to operate in order to avoid collisions.

It's no surprise the World Baseball Classic will not implement these changes this year as the players need some time to get used to new rules first.

The 2023 WBC marks the fifth edition of the event. The United States won the last title in 2017. Japan (2006, 2009) and the Dominican Republic (2013) have also won the competition.