MESA, Ariz. — New White Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi is not only getting used to his new teammates but the new MLB rulebook, too.
“I honestly don’t know the rules fully yet,” Benintendi admitted ahead of the team’s first full-squad practice on Monday. “We have 30 (spring training) games to get used to them, so we’ll see how it goes.”
You can’t blame Benintendi. There are a lot of new rules to cover.
The infield shift? That’s a thing of the past. All four infielders are now required to be on the dirt instead of the outfield grass, and there can be a max of two infielders on each side of second base.
The pitch clock will speed up the game. Pitchers have to deliver a pitch within 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with men on base.
Hitters will have to be in the batter’s box within 8 seconds.
Pickoff moves are also limited to two disengagements from the rubber per plate appearance, with a third step-off resulting in a balk. That should lead to more stolen bases along with the bigger bags themselves, increasing in size from 15 to 18 inches.
“They were bigger than I thought they would be,” said Cubs first baseman Trey Mancini when referring to the new bases. “They are big. They are quite large. As an offensive player, I’m not the most fleet of foot but it could be couple extra-base hits for some of us on bang-bang plays.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out,” said Cubs shortstop Danby Swanson. “I just hate we have to have rules to make things how game probably should be played.”
“In Charlotte, we had the bigger bags, we had the pitch clock, so I’m used to them,” said White Sox infielder Jake Burger, who played in Triple-A last season with some of the new rules. “It makes the game really fast.”
“I’m going to be excited to see guys not in right field that should not be in right field,” said White Sox outfielder Gavin Sheets when discussing the shift ban. “I don’t know how much it’s going to help me or hurt me, but I’m certainly excited not to see one side stacked up.”
“I looked at my baseball savant page I work relatively quick, so I don’t think it’ll be anything too big that I will have to change,” said Cubs pitcher Jameson Taillon. “Definitely with controlling the run game with the limit of pickoffs and stuff I’ll have to work on getting quicker to the plate, but as far as the pitch clock goes, I think that will be pretty easy.”
“I’ve always been someone who’s pitched pretty quick, I adapt, I’ve adapted my whole career, I feel like I’m a chameleon,” said Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman. “So anything they throw at me I’m good, it’s not going to affect my game.”