Among the defining storylines of the 2023 season will be the league’s steadfast efforts to increase the pace of play and shorten game times. For this aim, everybody at the ballpark will play a role—even bat boys and bat girls.
In a memo sent to teams on Wednesday, MLB outlined several minor changes to its pitch clock protocols after introducing the new system during spring training. And while most of the alterations were benign, one in particular stood out regarding the children who are often seen trotting in and out of the dugout between at-bats.
“New standards will be enforced for bat boys and bat girls, whose ability to quickly retrieve equipment will help efforts to speed up the game,” the memo said, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan. “The league will evaluate the performances of bat boys and bat girls and could ask teams to replace them if their performance is considered substandard.”
How teams evaluate their dedicated bat retrievers is unclear, but this note in the memo further illustrates how seriously MLB is taking its mission to shave time off of games. The effect of the pitch clock has been immediate and stark: spring training games averaged three hours and one minute in 2022. This year, that number is down to two hours and 36 minutes.
Now, imagine how much faster games will be once teams get their bat boys and girls in midseason form.