Play ball! Quickly! Baseball tries to speed game this spring

Gene J. Puskar/AP PhotoDigital clocks have been installed in ballparks throughout the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues to keep the action moving.

GOODYEAR — Tick, tock, baseball is on the clock.

Major League Baseball's new pace of play rules have begun with Tuesday's exhibition games in Arizona and Florida.

The subtle changes are designed to speed a game long embraced for its leisurely pace. Hitters must now keep one foot in the batter's box between pitches, and pitchers must complete warmup tosses between innings in a specific time.

Digital clocks, though some officials prefer to call them timers, have been installed in ballparks throughout the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues to keep the action moving.

Players will need to get used to the changes. After the first pitch of the game between Philadelphia and the Yankees at Clearwater, Florida, New York's Jacoby Ellsbury completely stepped out of the box, maintaining his routine. Plate umpire Vic Carapazza gave no indication that he reminded Ellsbury of the new rule.

By reducing the time of games, MLB hopes to make the sport more TV friendly and entice a younger audience while not compromising baseball's integrity.

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