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New MLB rules on display in Dodgers spring training opener

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers
Miguel Vargas started at second base Saturday, but at the plate the Dodgers rookie, by design, did a lot of watching.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers started their spring training schedule Saturday with a 7-4 loss to the Brewers, with the day proving instructive regarding a few of the new rules this year in Major League Baseball.

Nothing in Maryvale was nearly as wild as the Braves-Red Sox game earlier in the day that ended on an automatic strike resulting in a bases-loaded strikeout to conclude a tie game (which as we know is the greatest of all possible spring training outcomes).

But we did see examples during Dodgers-Brewers to remind us of the new rules nonetheless.

The first pitch-timer violation in a Dodgers game this spring went in LA’s favor. Brewers left-hander Alex Claudio did not start his windup in time for his full-count pitch to David Peralta, who was awarded an automatic ball by home plate umpire Jim Wolf.

Peralta after his time on base offered his best comp for MLB’s new larger bases, 18 inches by 18 inches instead of 15 by 15.

Caleb Bousley of Milwaukee was also charged with a pitch-clock violation and automatic ball to start the sixth against Yusniel Díaz.

Another of MLB’s new rules came into play with the Dodgers’ first hit of the spring. James Outman’s bouncer into short right field in the second inning was not fielded by a waiting infielder, resulting in a single thanks to this year’s defensive shift restrictions.

First home run for the Dodgers came off the bat of Freddie Freeman, against Elvis Peguero. It was a two-run shot, thanks to Miguel Vargas — who isn’t yet allowed to swing a bat thanks to his hairline pinkie fracture — walking on six pitches earlier in the frame. Vargas took two more balls against right-hander Tobias Myers in the fifth inning before striking out looking.

Every Dodgers pitcher threw exactly one inning on Saturday, including starter Michael Grove, who allowed a solo home run. Justin Bruihl was the only other 40-man roster member to pitch, and the left-hander allowed a two-run home run in the third inning, one of two long balls hit by former UCLA standout Garrett Mitchell.

Among those up from minor league camp to pitch in this game was Rubby De La Rosa, who tossed a scoreless inning on 11 pitches, including a strikeout in his first Dodgers appearance in 11 years. His outing also included a pitch-clock violation, the only one levied against the Dodgers.

The pitch clock helped speed up the pace of play on Saturday, and the game lasted just two hours and 21 minutes, even with 53 total players appearing in the contest. That is shorter than all but one Dodgers spring training game last year.

Up next

Non-roster left-hander Robbie Erlin is scheduled to start Sunday against the Cubs at Camelback Ranch (12:05 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), and right-hander Ryan Pepiot starts Monday in Peoria against the Padres.