Buck Showalter says pitch timer a ‘work in progress’ for Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE — Spring training began with talk of baseball’s new rules. Now, the teams are putting those rules into action.

Mets pitchers began throwing live batting practice over the weekend with left-hander Jose Quintana being the first to toss to hitters and continued Sunday and Monday with Kodai Senga, Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino, Max Scherzer and others. The Mets used the pitch timer to get pitchers and hitters used to working within the allotted time. Monday, they practiced with runners on base.

The club brought in local field timing coordinators to run the clock. These are the same officials who will be tasked with running the clock once the season starts.

Manager Buck Showalter said everyone has adjusted well so far, but noted that it’s still a “work in progress.”

“I try to give them a heads-up on what’s coming,” Showalter said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who are trying to look for advantages or disadvantages.”

Ottavino thinks it could be an advantage for the pitchers. Admittedly, the reliever said he isn’t the fastest worker on the mound, but with the rules now limiting how many times a hitter can call timeout, he may finally be able to dictate some pace.

“I’m definitely not quick, no,” Ottavino said. “But I think I would be working quicker if — a lot of times I’ll get ready, but I know the hitter isn’t ready so I’ll just wait because I know he’s just going to call timeout. But now, that’s not really a factor, so I’ll just go. I think I’ll work fine within the clock.”

The focus has been on the pitchers and how they would adapt to the rules, but some think it may be a more difficult adjustment for hitters. There is a 30-second timer between batters and they must be in the box and alert with eight seconds left or they will receive an automatic strike. Hitters are also only allowed one timeout per plate appearance with an automatic strike being assessed if they call another.

“They’re so used to being able to dictate their own pace up there and they’re not going to be able to do that as much,” Ottavino said. “Especially if you do the one step off and then the pitcher messes with you again when you can’t step out. I do think that can be a thing. But they’ll get used to it.”


The Mets announced their starting pitchers for the start of Grapefruit League play, which begins Saturday with a split-squad doubleheader. Right-hander Denyi Reyes will start the first game of the day in West Palm Beach against the Houston Astros and right-hander Jose Butto will start the home game at night against the Miami Marlins.

Scherzer will pitch Sunday at home against the Washington Nationals, left-hander David Peterson will start Monday in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals, and Quintana will get the ball Tuesday against the Astros.


All position players have reported to camp. The Mets held their first full-squad workout Monday and will likely hold a scrimmage later in the week. Showalter has not yet decided which day to scrimmage but said he liked having a dry run before the start of Grapefruit League games.