There may or may not be pitch clocks coming to Major League Baseball during the 2019 season, but there will be in spring training at the very least.
According to Mike Fitzpatrick of the Associated Press, Commissioner Rob Manfred said there will be a 20-second pitch clock for spring training games in Arizona and Florida this year to help players, managers and umpires garner experience should the rule be instituted for the regular season as a way of addressing pace of play in the game.
Fitzpatrick noted "players rebuffed management's proposal for a pitch clock" the past two seasons, although owners will not need the players association's approval if they want to unilaterally implement one this year.
This is not a new idea, as Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com noted a 20-second pitch clock was implemented in the minor leagues in 2015. Pitchers are penalized with an automatic ball added to the count when they exceed the time limit.
The past couple of years have seen rules aimed at improving pace of play, such as limiting mound visits from managers and eliminating pitchers throwing actual pitches when a batter is to be intentionally walked.
Earlier this month, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported there was a proposal being discussed that would require pitchers to face at least three batters before being removed from a contest. That would limit the number of times managers went to the mound for pitching changes and cut into the time used for pitchers to warm up on the actual mound.
Manfred has taken aim at pace of play in light of game time increasing in recent years.
According to Baseball Reference, the last seven seasons are among the top eight in league history for longest average game. The 2018 season was third on that list with an average of three hours, four minutes, while the record came the prior year with games lasting an average of three hours, eight minutes.