KC Royals’ Salvador Perez says MLB rule changes could ‘add two more years’ to career

Baseball is not about to replace the NFL as America’s most prominent sport. But changes to the rules intended to accelerate the pace and bring more action to the game ... especially the pitch clock ... harken back to a time when baseball was considered the national pastime.

“A lot of people talk about returning to game the way it used to be played when it was most popular,” Royals owner John Sherman said. “It had a faster pace.”

Yes it did. From 1955-1969, the era of such players as Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron, the average length of a baseball game was 2 1/2 hours. The last year a game averaged fewer than three hours was 2015.

But with the pitch clock now part of the sport, exhibition games in Arizona and Florida averaged 2:35 per nine innings. A year ago, the average time of a spring training game was 3:01.

With no one on base, the pitch clock starts at 15 seconds. With a runner on base, it starts at 20 seconds. A variation of the rule was in place in the minors last season, so some Royals like Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez had experience with faster baseball before spring training.

Also, defensive shifts have been banned and the bases are larger to create more action and offense. The results: The batting average on hits up the middle in spring training was .249. A year ago in the spring it was .233. The increase was even greater on pulled ground balls.

Also, stolen base attempts and success rate increased over 2022. In addition to the bigger bases, a pitcher is limited to two disengagements — pickoff attempts or step-offs — per plate appearance.

Here’s what the Royals said about the pitch clock and other rules changes heading into Thursday’s Opening Day contest against the Minnesota Twins.

Zack Greinke, the Opening Day starter:

“Surprisingly, a lot of good thoughts about it. It took a little getting used to it. There are more positives than negatives to it.”

Manager Matt Quatraro:

“The pace of the game has been tremendously different (in spring training). There’s definitely a different feel. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m watching, where the clocks are.

“I’ve seen pitchers pitching with 8-10-12 seconds on the clock. I think you’ll see it tick down more and more. They’ll want to catch their breath.”

Salvador Perez

“I like it. It’s going to add two more years to my career. I’m not going to catch more games (that are) 4 hours and 15 minutes. Now (they’re around) 2 hours, 20 minutes.”

MJ Melendez

“I got used to it a little bit (last year) and was able to learn the do’s and don’ts. This spring I was able to stay locked in. Instead of me taking a break and refresh my mind a little bit, I stayed locked in on the pitcher”

John Sherman

“I think the pitch clock is probably the most impactful (change). Games in spring training were crisper. The defense is more ready.”

Banning the shift

All four infielders are required to have both feet in the infield and two infielders will be required to be on either side of second base when the pitch is delivered.

Vinnie Pasquantino

“From a personal level, for any left-handed hitter, I think it helps. I saw last week somebody brought in an outfielder in short right field. It will be interesting to see. You just try to hit the ball hard. If he catches it he catches it. If he doesn’t he doesn’t There are still a lot of holes on the field. You just try to find those holes.”


“Way more ground balls got through the infield. They’re hitting them where they ain’t.”

Bigger bases

Bases are now 18 inches square instead of 15 inches, shortening the distance between bases. Even Perez stole a base in a spring training game.

Bobby Witt Jr.

“Any little advantage you can get is going to help us as a team.”


“I love it. I feel like I won’t get stepped on at first base as much. There’s a little more room not to get stepped on. The only adjustment I’ve made my entire life, I’ve run to the base without looking at the base. I knew where it’s always been. Now it’s moved a few inches. But I played with it in AAA and am pretty much used to it by now.”


“The big consensus among the players is that they like (the changes). The managers like it and the feedback from the fans has been great.”