New MLB bases look like a pizza box says

New MLB bases ‘look like a pizza box,’ says Alex Cora

ESPN News Services11:36 AM ET2 Minute Read

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he agrees with Major League Baseball’s new rules but offered a notable joke on the first day of spring training.

“The bases, these are the bases,” Cora told reporters on Tuesday. “Wait ’til you see them — they look like a pizza box, to be honest.”

MLB passed a number of new rules that will be implemented this season, including increasing the size of bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches.

The enlarged bases are primarily intended to promote security – they are less likely to be stepped on by first basemen – but are also expected to result in an increase in stolen base attempts as base paths have been shortened by 4 inches.

However, Cora noted that he has gotten the Red Sox to “play fast whenever we can” and said he doesn’t think stolen base totals will grow exponentially. Marlins infielder Jon Berti led the majors with 41 stolen bases last season, while Trevor Story led the Red Sox with 13.

“If we talk to the minor league coaches and everyone who used the rules last year – it’s not like we’re going to suddenly steal 100 bags with a guy,” Cora said. “The value of the out is still in play and you get 27. So you have to be smart, you have to be efficient.”

MLB will also introduce a pitch clock that counts down 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. The MLB clock will be slightly longer than the version experimented with in the minor leagues last season — 14 seconds with empty bases and 19 seconds with runners at Triple-A and 14 and 18 at lower levels.

Other new rules include a defensive shift ban that requires four players other than the pitcher and catcher to keep in front of the outfield turf when a pitch is thrown, including two of the four on either side of second base.

Additionally, there is a limit of two pickoff attempts, or steps off the rubber, during each plate appearance, which MLB refers to as disengagements. If a third attempt is made and unsuccessful, a balk would be called. The limit would reset to two during a plate appearance if a runner advances.

Coaching staffs across MLB will face a challenge due to the abbreviated spring training schedule created by the World Baseball Classic, which runs March 7-21, according to Cora.

“The timing of that – I agree with the rules – but the timing is a bit more difficult because of the tournament,” he said. “But it is what it is. We have a lot of people going to the tournament and we have to do a good job in the first 10-15 days [of spring training] to get them used to it.

“You’re going to see a lot of pitch clocks everywhere, and you’re going to hear horns and all that stuff trying to remind the guys of the pitch clock, which is the most important thing.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.