Now that the World Baseball Classic is over and folks are returning to their major league teams, the focus turns to opening day, now just a week away.
But there is still some reflecting on the experience of the international tournament. Dodgers third base coach Dino Ebel coached third for Team USA, and told SportsNet LA he got about three hours of sleep after Tuesday night’s finale. He and the others got back to Arizona around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, and was back coaching third base for Los Angeles in the night game against the Mariners.
‘What a great experience. It’s something I’m not ever going to forget in my lifetime, wearing the uniform, representing our country,” Ebel told Kirsten Watson on the SportsNet LA broadcast. “Just the electricity in the ballpark, and us getting to the championship game, witnessing that last out last night with Ohtani and Trout. What a great experience.”
Austin Barnes, who caught five of Mexico’s six games in the WBC, was back in the Dodgers’ lineup on Wednesday night. He posted on Instagram how proud he was to represent Mexico, calling the tournament “a baseball experience I’ll never forget.”
Julio Urías will start on Friday against Milwaukee at Camelback Ranch, the same day he is expected to be announced as the Dodgers’ opening day starter. The left-hander was at a loss for words in describing his time at the World Baseball Classic. From Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register:
“It’s something that is hard to describe, you just have to live it. Obviously during the World Series I was able to throw the last pitch, but this was just different. There are no words to describe the feeling.”
Rule change changes, sort of
The tweaks made by Major League Baseball to some its new rules, related mostly to the pitch timer and defensive shift limitations, were mostly minor in nature. Stories by Jeff Passan at ESPN as well as Evan Drellich and Jayson Stark at The Athletic detail the changes. Both identified the most impactful change, which required approval from the MLB Players Association.
With the possibility of teams regularly issuing challenges after outs in hopes that one of the four infielders was positioned with his feet on the outfield grass — which would negate the out and return the batter to the plate — the memo said on batted balls that only the positioning of the defender fielding them could be challenged.
None of the timer numbers will change, so it’s still 15 seconds between pitches with nobody on base, and 20 seconds with runners on, and batters needing to be “alert and ready to the pitcher” by eight seconds left. Perhaps the most eye-popping of the changes was that batboys and batgirls could be replaced if their performance isn’t up to standard, and while that sounds harsh, there is also leniency built in when they require a long run to get back to their positions, noted The Athletic.
No minor matter
Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers games will be streamed for free on the Bally Sports app this season, per play-by-play broadcaster and communications director Alex Freedman. There’s another avenue to keep track of Dodgers Triple-A games for those of you without MiLB.tv.