Following a discussion on the pace of games at last week's Owners Meetings in Milwaukee, Major League Baseball held a series of conference calls Friday with each team's field manager, general manager and in-game entertainment staff, and with all Major League umpire crew chiefs.
During the calls, all participants were advised that umpires will be more vigilant in the enforcement "of matters pertaining to the improvement of pace of game efforts."
These efforts were slated to begin immediately.
Among the measures is a 12-second time limit for pitchers to throw the ball, and a rule specifying that the batboy must have a second bat ready in the event the hitter cracks his bat.
"I like the extra bat in the on-deck circle," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I believe the game will take care of itself. The game has never been on a clock, and that's the beauty of this game compared to basketball or football, all the other games. When I was a kid, I used to just pray for extra innings, so I could watch two or three more innings of a baseball game. The time element thing to me is not that big of a factor. ... Right now, I think our game is pretty cool the way it is."
Carl Crawford likes the idea of having instant replay to judge foul balls and home runs.
"I think it's a good idea," Crawford said. "A couple of our guys could have used it. So I'm all for it."
Crawford remembered a home run he hit in Baltimore that landed over the wall in right-center field, hit another wall and bounced back on to the field, for which he was awarded a double.
"I heard the commentator say, 'It's one less home run you'll never have,'" Crawford said.
Maddon also thinks cameras could be put to good use judging whether a ball is fair or foul and on the legitimacy of home runs.
"A lot of times, people reach over the fence and you can't see," Maddon said. "... Foul poles, I think there should be a dedicated camera to each foul pole for home runs or not home runs, for fair or foul balls. Those are difficult calls for umpires. ... I don't want it on bang-bang calls. I don't want it on balls and strikes. Home runs for fair and foul balls, that makes the most sense."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.