MLB News

Dodgers players have mixed opinions about 2023 MLB rule changes

Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy watches his three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants.

Max Muncy hits a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 7. Muncy sees pros and cons to the elimination of defensive shifts in baseball. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Max Muncy hit the ball high and deep to the warning track in right field.

It barely got past a diving effort by Manny Machado, the San Diego Padres third baseman.

More than a year removed from one of the most unusual doubles of his career, when Machado nearly robbed him of extra bases on an extreme defensive shift during a game at Petco Park last June, Muncy vividly recalled the play on Friday, reliving the flashback in the wake of Major League Baseball’s announcement of major 2023 rule changes.

Next season, shifts like the one Machado was in will be banned, with teams soon to be required to have two infielders on either side of second base, and all four infielders standing on the dirt.

The league also announced it will institute a pitch clock for the first time, to 15 seconds when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when someone is on base; limit pickoff attempts and step-offs for pitchers, as well as timeouts at the plate for hitters; and introduce slightly larger bases that might make stealing easier.

It was one of the most sweeping sets of rule changes baseball has seen.

And in the immediate aftermath, opinions in the Dodgers clubhouse varied.

From a hitter’s perspective, Muncy wasn’t sure how much of an impact the elimination of infield shifts would make. He acknowledged it will be nice for left-handed hitters like him to not see line drives into right field converted into outs by extremely shifted infielders. At the same time, he wondered if weakly hit grounders will more often turn into base hits, too.

“I don’t feel like you should get rewarded for that rollover ground ball,” he said. “The one I care about is when you hit the line drive … and there’s a guy sitting there.”

The shift ban will have defensive repercussions, as well, especially for a Dodgers team that has become notoriously effective at positioning its infielders in various formations across the diamond.

“It will impact, it absolutely will,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But this is something that Major League Baseball, the players side feel that it’s best for the game. I’m on board. So we’ve got to manage within that structure.”

The pitch clock might be an even starker change.

In hopes of speeding up the pace of games, pitchers and hitters will now be…

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