MLB already has a catcher that doesn’t appear to be too thrilled with the league’s new rule limiting visits to the mound. Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras told ESPN that if necessary, he’ll take whatever the necessary punishment is if he needs to make any mound visits past the sixth one.
“I don’t even care,” Contreras said Tuesday afternoon. “If I have to go [out there] again and pay the price for my team I will.”
Contreras went on to discuss the importance of potentially needing to meet with his pitcher in the late innings of a close game.
“What about a tight game or an extra-inning game and you have to go out there?” he asked rhetorically. “They cannot say anything about that. That’s my team. If they are going to fine me for mound visit No. 7, I’ll pay the price.”
MLB hasn’t specified just what exactly the penalty is if a player exceeds the total number of mound limits, but said that if a coach or manager exceeds the limit, they’ll need to make a pitching change.
ESPN also implied that if a player doesn’t comply with the umpire telling him to return to his position, he could be ejected.
Speaking at a news conference later in the day, commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB chief officer Joe Torre said umpires will simply tell a catcher or other player to return to his position if his team has used up its six visits. If a catcher defies that order and gets into an argument with an umpire, then an ejection could be in order.
Just what everyone wants to see – an ump show in the late innings of a close game. Perfect!
Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, who slammed ESPN earlier on Tuesday for highlighting Brian McCann’s mound visits to him in Game 7 of the World Series, also said that focusing on mound visits wouldn’t make a substantial impact on cutting time from the game.
“I think there are so many factors that can really affect the game,” he said. “To try to peel those back for a couple extra minutes at the end, I don’t know if that’s the answer.”
He also pointed out that mound visits from catchers to discuss signs help him pitch better, and if he’s doing well (and getting outs, making the game go faster), mound visits aren’t as necessary.
“You think I want to break rhythm and tempo during a game to talk about signs behind my glove?” he said. “No, It’s a necessary reaction to an issue we, as pitchers and catcher, are facing. I guess enforcing the integrity by hitting batters is better than an extra 4 minutes to discuss signs.”
Mound visits themselves take up time. But if a pitcher isn’t pitching well, and is thusly throwing more pitches and facing more batters, the game is also taking longer. The goal here seems to be to eliminate non-essential mound visits, but isn’t the game really as important as the batter at the plate? If a team elects to “save” a mound visit because it’s only the fifth inning, and a batter hits a three-run homer that sparks a huge inning, didn’t the lack of a mound visit really just make the game longer?
Huh. Yeah. Maybe MLB didn’t think this one through, which is so surprising and unlike them.