The start of the 2017 Major League Baseball season has brought with it seven rule changes and modifications approved by the owners and players.
The full list of changes was provided by MLB Communications on Twitter:
No-Pitch Intentional Walk
The most drastic change is eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk. Managers can now signal when they want to walk a player, and umpires will award the batter first base without a pitch thrown.
This rule was put on display in the regular season for the first time when the Chicago Cubs wanted to put St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on in the bottom of the ninth during Sunday's season-opening game.
There have been moments in the past when a player has used the intentional walk to his advantage. New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly when the Tampa Bay Rays tried to put him on base with an intentional walk last season.
Those feats are rare, and the rule change is unlikely to cause headaches for teams who don't want to pitch to a particular player.
Three of the rule changes are specifically designed to speed up the replay process. Managers have just 30 seconds after a play is over to decide if they want to challenge a call.
Previously, managers would stand at the top of their dugouts and tell their players to wait at a given base while the coach in charge of reviewing replays got a good look at the play before a decision was made to challenge or not.
There is also a two-minute replay time limit for replay officials who go over the play from MLB's replay center in New York. The ruling is then given to the umpires, who make the call on the field.
Teams still start each game with one managerial challenge, though they are granted an additional challenge if the first one is successful.
After a manager has used up his challenges, the umpiring crew chief is now permitted to invoke replay reviews for any non-home run calls starting in the eighth inning. The previous rule permitted umpire challenges starting in the seventh inning.
Ban on Use of Field Markers
Last May, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the New York Mets contacted MLB's offices after learning the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted to mark positions on the field where their defenders should line up.
"The Dodgers, after using the laser rangefinder, wanted to use markers on the playing surface to define the desired positions for their outfielders and informed the Mets' grounds crew of their plans," Rosenthal wrote.
The Mets didn't want the Dodgers to mark their field and, per Rosenthal, "instructed their grounds crew to erase or obliterate anything they saw on the playing surface."
MLB does allow teams to use electronics prior to games to show their players where to line up on defense, but the new rule specifically prohibits using any kind of marker on the dirt or grass as the game is progressing.
Pitchers Only Permitted One Step Toward Home Plate
While not officially called the "Carter Capps Rule," this rule change is best explained using the San Diego Padres reliever's unique delivery.
The new addition to Rule 5.07 stipulates a pitcher may only take one step "toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch."
It relates to Capps because of his unique delivery, in which he takes a short hop toward the plate with his back foot before offering the pitch.
Under the new rule, Capps could be called for an illegal pitch, resulting in an automatic ball in the count if the bases are empty or a balk if there is a runner on base.
In a typical pitcher's delivery, the lead foot moves toward the plate as the back foot pushes off the mound and drags along the dirt before the follow-through.
Base Coaches Stay in the Box
The simplest rule change that won't have a significant impact on game play is that first- and third-base coaches are now required to "position themselves behind the line of the coach's box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch."
Coaches can still come out of their boxes to signal players to stay at a base or move up, but they have to start the play within the white lines painted on the field.
In the past, first- and third-base coaches have been able to roam around their area as often as they wanted without directly interfering with play between the lines.