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A Major Change in the Minors: Baseball Moving the Mound Back

  • April 15, 2021

For M.L.B., of course, the issue is not the career prospects of pitchers in the Atlantic League. The new on-field blueprints may seem radical, but the architects include deeply respected people like the former outfielder Raul Ibanez and the former general managers Theo Epstein and Michael Hill. They are not known for irrational ideas.

“One thing I know about, from talking to M.L.B. on a lot of different areas, they put a lot of thought into some of the changes or experiments they make,” Cubs Manager David Ross said on Wednesday. “I think that’s why they’re starting these things. Pushing the mound back is a wait-and-see — I have no idea. But giving the hitters an extra foot is definitely going to benefit the hitters.”

Matt Blake, the Yankees’ pitching coach, said pitchers could benefit, too.

“There’s going to be second-order effects of that, and I think it’s hard to estimate what exactly that will look like,” Blake said. “But there will be both positives and negatives on both sides of it. The amount of room to create shapes and movement for a pitcher will enhance, you just might deaden some of the velocity from the distance that we’re talking about.”

For a rapidly changing game, there is nothing to lose by creatively trying to generate more action and reduce dead time. And as revolutionary as it might seem to move the mound back, even the greatest pitchers might sometimes find the feeling familiar.

“It’s funny,” Palmer said. “In your bad games, you thought the mound was at 61 feet, anyway.”

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