Pirates' Francisco Cervelli: New mound-visit rule 'worst thing I've ever heard'
BRADENTON, Fla. – Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli was critical of the new MLB pace-of-play rule changes that limit mound visits to six per nine innings, calling it "the worst thing I've ever heard."
"This is baseball, man. Baseball is about changing tempo," Cervelli said Tuesday morning at Pirate City. "Sometimes, you go to the mound not because you want to go to the mound; it's because you have to.
"Somebody is warming up; you give him time. You have to say one word to make your pitcher come back to do your thing. That's not baseball, limits and things like that. I don't think visiting the mound is going to slow the game. This game is a chess game. It's strategy."
The MLP Players Association refused to agree to the changes to the rule, which prevented the implementation of pitch clocks but now will keep counts of mound visits by the manager, pitching coach and players. The average time of an MLB game last season was three hours, five minutes.
Cervelli even took issue with the need to improve the pace.
"Why do I need to speed up the game? I've been playing this game for a long time and for us in the field, it's different. We take as long as we can, but we have to win," Cervelli said. "What are you going to tell Boston-Yankees, when those games are four hours all the time? You have Stanton and Judge all the time and Gary Sanchez. If you have to go there every pitch, you go … because I don't want those guys to beat me. But you can't. I guess we've got to figure out something else.
"Sometimes, I'm squatting behind the plate and I have to wait for TV. And I never say anything. They know what they're doing, I guess."
Cervelli cited the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina as an example of a catcher who makes a "difference" with his mound visits.
"He's the best I've ever seen because he goes to the mound, says the right thing and comes back," Cervelli said. "He goes there every time he needs to go – because that's the game. The catcher is a psychologist. We have to slow the game down or speed it up. I don't know. I guess I've got to go there less."
Cervelli said he didn't know how to handle the limits of the rule, except that he will start by visiting the mound less this spring.
"I'll let you know when the season starts," Cervelli said. "In spring training, I'm going to go there one time. That's it. During the season, you want to win games and you want to do anything you can. You've got a man at second, a guy stealing signs over there, and if you have to go there 10 times you have to go. We'll figure out something."
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.