FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz launched a vivid and occasionally hilarious rant against baseball's new pace of play rules, especially the one that stipulates a batter keep one foot in the box at all times [with some exceptions].
"Is that new?'' Ortiz asked about the foot-in-box rule.
"It seems like every rule goes in the pitcher's favor. After a pitch, you got to stay in the box? One foot? I call that bulls---.
"When you come out of the box, they don't understand you're thinking about what the [pitcher] is trying to do. This is not like, you go to the plate with an empty mind. No, no, no. When you see a guy, after a pitch, coming out of the box, he's not just doing it. Our minds are speeding up.
"I saw one pitch, I come out, I'm thinking, 'What is this guy going to try to do to me next?' I'm not walking around just because there are cameras all over the place and I want my buddies back home to see me and this and that. It doesn't go that way.
"When you force a hitter to do that, 70 percent you're out, because you don't have time to think. And the only time you have to think about things is that time. So, I don't know how this baseball game is going to end up.''
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, incidentally, was a member of the committee charged with improving the pace of play, and he was cited by new commissioner Rob Manfred as playing a key role. Evidently, neither Werner nor anyone else solicited Ortiz's thoughts on the subject. He complained that no one asked the players what they thought.
"It doesn't matter what they do, the game is not going to speed up. That's the bottom line. When you argue for a pitch and they got to review it, that takes some time. Is that our fault? No. It's their fault. But we still got to play the game.''
Someone told Ortiz the proposed penalty for stepping out of the box was a $500 fine. Would he prefer just to pay the money?
"Well, I might run out of money,'' he said. "I'm serious. I'm not going to change my game. I don't care what they say. My game, it's not like I go around and do all kinds of stupid s---. But I have to take my time and think about what that [pitcher] is going to do next. I'm pretty sure every single hitter at this level is on the same page.
"They put their rules together, but they don't talk to us, as hitters, how do you feel about this? You know what I'm saying? Why don't you come and ask questions first. And then we can get in an agreement. But then you got to do this just because you say so. Oh buddy, it doesn't work that way. Trust me.''
"It doesn't matter what they do, the game is not going to speed up. That's the bottom line. When you argue for a pitch and they got to review it, that takes some time. Is that our fault? No. It's their fault."David Ortiz
The new rules are being implemented with the assent of the players' association, but that probably is not enough to mollify Ortiz.
"This game has been going on 100 years. It's the nature of the game. I don't care who you are, you're not going to change it. That is our nature. Pitch comes through, you come out of the box, you go back in it.''
Ortiz reiterated that too much of the onus is being placed on hitters to speed up the game, which overlooks the fact that MLB is trying out pitch clocks at the minor league level.
"How about all the pitchers who go around the mound and do all that bulls---,'' Ortiz said. "What about that? Why don't they tell the pitcher, 'Throw the pitch and stay on the mound. Don't move.'
"If they're going to do it on us, they should do it on the pitchers, too. We're not the only ones in the game, you know what I'm saying?
"How about the guy on the mound who does this, for three hours,'' said Ortiz, launching into an exaggerated parody of a pitcher shaking off multiple signs from a catcher. "I say, 'C'mon man, make a f---ing pitch.' That count? Nobody talks about that, right?
"I don't think that's fair. That's the bottom line.''